Constantia murder: Their marriage was no fairytale
Court hears that Packham couple's marital problems were 'a known fact'
Blood in the bathroom, blood in the garage, blood in the husband’s car.
The Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday heard evidence against Cape Town businessman Rob Packham, 57, accused of murdering his wife Gill two weeks ago.
Prosecutor Brynmor Benjamin told the court the couple’s marital problems were “a known fact”, and that blood was found in their home and in his car.
Her charred body was found in the boot of her burnt-out BMW and her husband of 30 years was arrested a week later.
“It's a known fact that the accused and the deceased had marital problems,” Benjamin told the court.
“There is evidence in the form of WhatsApp messages or SMSs between the victim and the accused, saying they must call it a day.”
Packham is facing a charge of premeditated murder and the state has opposed bail.On February 22, a resident from Diep River who was returning from work saw a bottle green vehicle parked behind the Diep River railway station in the leafy suburb of Constantia around 4pm.
“I came back [from work] with the train and it was 15:45,” the resident, who didn’t want to be named, told Times Select on Wednesday.
“I thought to myself that it was strange a car was parked with its front facing forward.
“My main concern was the number plate? Why didn’t it have a number plate?”
Four hours later, the same resident was woken up to the same vehicle ablaze.
“I was in bed when my daughter said the car was on fire. My daughter then phoned the fire brigade.
“And … oh my gosh … when they came, it must have been ashes already … the body, you know?”Gill’s charred body in the boot was identified using a DNA sample from one of her two adult daughters.
The state claims that witnesses saw a car similar to one driven by Packham leaving the scene where the body was found.
Earlier that day Packham was the last person with whom Gill was seen aliveh. He allegedly left their Constantia home in Gill’s car which had its registration plates removed. The state claims he sped away from a witness at about 07:30 on the morning of the murder.
Blood was found in the couple’s Constantia home in their bedroom’s en-suite bathroom, in the garage and on the driver’s side of Packham’s car.
Gill was declared missing on the same day when she did not arrive at the Springfield Convent school where she worked as a secretary.As Packham emerged from the holding cells below the court on Monday he winked at the second row of the gallery where his daughters and family were seated. They did not seem to respond to his greeting.
He sobbed in court, even bringing some of the members of the gallery to tears, as his lawyer, advocate Ben Mathewson, explained to the court how he drove around all over Diep River looking for his wife in all the special places they used to frequent as a couple.
He said that Packham, the general manager of soft drinks company Twizza, was receiving trauma counselling and that he wished to be held at Diep River police station rather than Pollsmoor Prison until his next appearance on Friday so that he could be closer to his youngest daughter who had just finished university and who now had to face the murder of her mother alone.
But Benjamin said they would oppose bail because they feared Packham would destroy evidence. “We are still looking for the victim’s cellphone,” he told magistrate Goolam Bawa. The matter will be heard again on Friday.
He said Packham’s phone pinged various cellphone towers across the Diep River area on the day of the murder when he was supposed to be at work and that he tried to obstruct the administration of justice by trying to orchestrate an alibi by calling one of his colleagues to confer with him that he was in a meeting at 7:30 am.Police Cape Town Cluster commander Major-General Peter Jacobs was sitting with members of the family in court, consoling Gill’s sisters and her daughters and shying them away from the media.
“It’s my cluster. We (the police) are often the last voice of the deceased,” he said.
“We don’t really have murders in Diep River you know, so we are providing oversight,” said Jacobs.
Packham tried to exit through the another door after the proceedings, in an apparent attempt to hide his face from the gallery, but he was shown the way to the holding cells by a court officer.
His face and eyes were red from tears but, as he left, this time he did not look back at his family in the gallery.