17 April 2019

South Africa: 5 Times Others Were to Blame, According to Rob Packham

Rob Packham has pointed a finger at others for at least five times during his cross-examination in the Western Cape High Court, where he is on trial for the murder of his wife Gill in February 2018.

He insists he is innocent and that things have been misinterpreted. At times, he appeared irritated or frustrated at the line of questioning from the State.

With prosecutor Susan Galloway entering her third day of cross-examination on Wednesday, News24 looks at points that Packham raised on Tuesday where he said he was not to blame:

1) Police not being able to access his cellphone

Investigating officer Sergeant Ivan Sonnenberg testified that Packham supplied a PIN for his work iPhone, but it didn't work. He said the accused later claimed he forgot his PIN. Galloway wanted to know why he gave the wrong PIN. Packham replied that he gave the police the "exact, correct pin number" and they wrote it down. He was not "inclined" to share the PIN with them again because he felt so much of his and his wife's private information was out in the public.

"If they couldn't find it [the PIN] or keep track of it, that was not my problem," he told Galloway.

2) A 'missing' cellphone message

Packham's ex-lover, who cannot be identified in terms of a court order, testified that on February 22, 2018 - the day Gill went missing - she received a message from Packham at around 08:30, wishing her a good morning and saying he had overslept. Galloway said there was no record of this message on records for either his work phone or his private phone. He suggested it might have been a WhatsApp message but Galloway said there was no record of that either. He said his work phone was off, he did not have a third phone and thus he must have sent it from his private phone.

Packham had "no idea" why it was not on the records from his cellphone service provider and suggested Galloway take it up with her cellphone mapping expert.

3) No reference to searching for a new car for his wife

Packham testified that before he knew his wife was missing, he stopped at various dealerships on his way to work to continue the search for a new car for her - a surprise she did not know about. Galloway said he did not tell Sonnenberg about the car search when giving his statement. Defence advocate Craig Webster intervened to say that Sonnenberg had recalled mention of this topic but was not sure whether Packham or someone else had informed him. Packham said he must have told Sonnenberg while chatting with him.

"I was at Diep River [station] for nearly four hours on Friday morning and the end result is a single sheet statement. Three different people attempted to try and type it from the notes he made," Packham said, adding he was not surprised it ended up as a condensed version.

He confirmed the statement was read back to him and he signed it.

"I was quite content that if Sonnenberg was happy with the content of the statement, then I was."

4) A misinterpreted alibi

Packham's former colleague, Lodewyk Janse van Rensburg, testified that the accused had called him in the early afternoon of the day of his wife's disappearance and had asked him to say, should anyone ask, that they had been in a meeting at 08:30 that morning. Packham testified that he told his trusted colleague Gill was missing and made a "simple request" that if she called or came to his work, he should please let her know he had been there from that time. He told Galloway the alibi was for his wife only, because she tracked his movements as a result of his affair.

"He then embellished it and misinterpreted it as an alibi for anybody. It was purely for my wife," he explained.

Galloway said it appeared "very incriminating" that Packham sent an SMS to the same colleague a few days later after his wife's body was found, with a reminder to "perpetuate a lie about your whereabouts that morning". Packham said he was very upset about media reports that had twisted the alibi story. He agreed with Galloway's timeline but disagreed with the way she was interpreting it.

5) The tyre track mystery

Packham was adamant that he did not change the tyres on his Audi Q5, despite the police observing two different tyre types at different times last year. The track of the first tyres observed possibly matched an impression found at the crime scene, whereas the tyres on the vehicle six months later did not.

"... Any confusion that might have arisen due to the tyres, or the identification of the tyres, I am afraid, rests with the police force and possibly some internal problems there," Packham said.

News24

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