A composed Rob Packham took the stand on Monday in the Western Cape High Court where he emphatically denied any involvement in the murder of his wife Gill Packham.
Packham is accused of murder and defeating the ends of justice for allegedly killing his wife Gill Packham in February last year. He has pleaded not guilty.
On the day she went missing, February 22, she did not arrive for work at the usual time of 7.30am. Her body was later found in the boot of a burnt-out BMW near the Diep River train station.
The state alleged that her husband used a blunt object to hit her on the head and, with the alleged intention of obstructing the course of justice, set her BMW on fire while her body was in it.
Flecks of blood were found in the Packham home’s garage and bathroom. DNA analysis showed that it was Gill’s blood found in the garage, as well as the inside door handle of Packham’s car. Packham’s blood was found under the bathroom basin as well as on a towel or bath mat.
Packham told the court that the Sunday prior to his wife’s disappearance she had taken bags of recycling to the dump after “hounding” him to do it for some time.
She had used his car, and Packham said when picking up the bags she had cut her hand. “I can only suggest it was from that.”
Her blood was also found on a compost bag, which Packham testified could have come from her cutting herself on a thorn as she was a gardening enthusiast.
Packham said his blood, found in the bathroom, could have been caused by nicking himself while shaving. “I have a little mole or growth on the neck that has a habit of getting itself nicked. It happens several times a month. So much so that Gill wanted me to get an electric razor.”
When defence advocate Craig Webster asked Packham if he was in any way involved in causing the death of his wife, his response was vehement: “I was not, absolutely not.”
The couple had been having marital problems and had been attending counselling sessions, after Packham had disclosed his infidelities. The night before her disappearance, they had attended a session, returned home and remained there for the rest of the night, Packham told the court.
During cross-examination, senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway said witness X (Packham’s former mistress who may not be identified) had testified that Packham had told her that he loved his life, but not his wife.
Packham conceded this and testified that he had said this in early 2016.
He also confirmed that it was unlike his wife to disappear, it was unusual for her to take a day off, and that she had no enemies.
To which, Galloway said: “Her death must have been the result of a random hijacking or attack?”
“That is my assumption, yes. I guess so, yes,” Packham replied.
Galloway said their home alarm had been on, the dogs were outside, and there were no signs of a robbery, but Packham said she “could have been attacked in the garage”.
“I don’t know. I didn’t follow her when she left.”
On the first day of the trial, which started last month, Packham’s youngest daughter Nicola testified about her parents’ troubled marriage.
She told the court she had known about her father’s affairs for several years before her mother found out in October 2017.
She said they had committed to working on their marriage, attended counselling once a week and planned to renew their vows. But the day before her disappearance, her father had said in a counselling session, that he had feelings for his mistress.
Previously, he had said he did not have feelings for her, but in that session, he disclosed that he did, and “mom was very upset about it”, she told the court.
– African News Agency