Rob Packham's phone was turned off the morning his wife disappeared – expert

2019-03-25 15:18
Rob Packham in court.

Rob Packham in court. (Foto: Jaco Marais)

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Two hours and eight minutes – this was how long Rob Packham's main phone was switched off on the morning his slain wife went missing, a cellphone mapping expert told the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

Warrant Officer Reece Harvey, who has been analysing cellphone data with software for about 10 years, drew up a timeline of events around Gill Packham's murder on February 22, 2018, using information obtained from phone service providers.

The information included GPRS data (for WhatsApp messages and the internet) and phone calls between Rob and his wife, their daughter Nicola, and for the school at which Gill worked.

The court previously heard that Rob had two phones – a work phone and a "burner" phone that only his ex-mistress knew about.

Harvey said that the burner phone was picked up at the Clock Tower in the V&A Waterfront on February 21, 2018. The work phone was not picked up in that vicinity.

Rob's ex-mistress, who cannot be identified in terms of a court order, testified last week that she had last seen him at the V&A Waterfront on that day to discuss "whether he was coming to a decision with regards to his marriage".

Not guilty plea

Harvey said Gill's phone was not active from 21:04 that night until 07:03 the next day, when she went missing. The last activity on it was at 07:09.

"What happened then?" Judge Elize Steyn asked him. "It was never to be on again," he replied.

Rob has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and obstruction of justice.

Gill's charred remains were found on February 22 in the boot of her burnt-out BMW at the Diep River train station after the fire was extinguished.

Investigating officer Sergeant Ivan Sonnenberg previously told the court that Rob had indicated that he and his wife had breakfast and she left before he did, at around 07:00.

Sonnenberg said that CCTV footage from a house in the same road, taken at 07:34 that day, showed a white male driving a BMW.

Seven forwarded calls

Harvey said Rob's main phone picked up signal at the Constantia Dale tower at 07:28.

He said the phone was then switched off between 07:45 and 09:53, when he arrived at work in Bellville. Seven calls were forwarded in this time period.

The ex-mistress testified that she received an SMS or WhatsApp from Rob around 08:30 that day, saying good morning and he had overslept.

Harvey testified that the burner phone was in the area of the Greenways Hotel tower at 08:46.

He said Gill's school phoned Rob at 09:55, followed by Nicola at 09:56.

Between 11:00 and 14:00, the following cellphone towers were picked up by his phone: Wynberg, Constantia, Greenways, Cavendish, Kenilworth, Plumstead, Kalk Bay, Seaforth and Steenberg.

His phone was picked up in Quintus Way at 14:11, which Harvey indicated was where a witness had seen Rob.

At 14:37, his phone was picked up in Diep River.

READ: Witness says he saw 'anxious' Packham in missing wife's car

The defence accused Harvey of including his own assumptions in the timeline, instead of sticking to what the cellphone data indicated.

Steyn asked him to compile a concise timeline without his inferences.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    rob packham  |  gill packham  |  cape town  |  courts  |  crime
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