Killer Packham’s daughter dotes on her ‘wonderful’ dad
‘He was a wonderful father, and I hope that he can one day have the same impact on my kids as he did on me’
When Kerry-Ann Meyer entered the witness box at the Cape Town High Court on Wednesday, she exchanged a smile with the man who murdered her mother.
The 28-year-old primary school teacher is the elder daughter of Rob Packham and his wife Gill, whom Packham has been found guilty of killing in February 2018.
Testifying in mitigation of her father’s sentence, Meyer painted a portrait of the ideal family man – a “kind and caring breadwinner” who “always cared for others” – and said he had done everything in his power to ensure she and her younger sister, Nicola, would have a good life.
Despite the brutal nature of her mother’s death – she was hit over the head, and her body was burned – and the subsequent attempts to cover up the killing by her father, Meyer expressed only fondness for Packham.
“He was a wonderful father, and I hope that he can one day have the same impact on my kids as he did on me,” she told Judge Elizabeth Steyn.
Packham had never been violent while she lived in the family’s Constantia home until 2016. “He never showed any violence to myself or my sister or mother.” She said her mother would have told her if there had been any domestic violence.
On Monday, Steyn convicted Packham on murder and obstruction of justice, saying he had been “living a selfish, destructive double life”. She said he was a “crafty, competitive deceiver”.
Before taking the stand, Meyer sat in the court gallery with her sister, Nicola, and Packham’s sister. When Packham entered the court they exchanged smiles and a brief, relaxed conversation.
Steyn said Meyer would be understandably distressed that, having already lost her mother, her father would in all likelihood also vanish from her life.
“One parent remains, and I understand the urge to discuss your father’s best attributes,” she said.
Meyer said she was “very sad” that her mother could not attend her wedding in 2018, and that it was still “traumatic” to accept that any children she had would not know their grandmother.
Questioning Meyer, prosecutor Susan Galloway mentioned this again, and Meyer sarcastically thanked her for reminding her of the painful fact.
Galloway said: “You say he had been a loving, kind parent, but all this time he had been living a double life and hiding it from you?” to which Meyer replied “yes”.
Meyer was questioned at length about family holidays, and said she never felt threatened by her father. Instead, he was “always looking to mediate fights in the family and resolve conflicts and tension”.
Tension reared its head in the household over the double life Packham led with a mistress, and Meyer said her mother was “understandably devastated” and “extremely hurt and upset”.
She added: “Family was extremely important to her. It was her own choice to work on the marriage because she wanted it to work.
“Conflict was something that my dad didn’t like, and he would play mediator between us. There were times when he would get frustrated, which I think is totally normal. He would try to calm her down and make peace.”
Financial tension was also a factor in the household, especially after Packham’s business failed in 2010 and the family had to sell their Rondebosch home and Hermanus holiday house. For a short time, Gill had to support the family while Packham was unemployed.
Speaking about her mother, Meyer became tearful. “She was fun, loving, interesting, and it was so easy to speak to her,” she said.
“I needed to be a big girl after moving to another country, but I loved talking to her every day. Her death has left a big hole in all our lives, including my father’s.”