Constantia businessman Rob Packham gave a false version of how his wife Gill died in February 2018, and should be convicted for her murder and misleading police in their investigation, the State argued on Wednesday.
Delivering closing argument in the Western Cape High Court, State prosecutor Susan Galloway conceded that all the evidence against Packham was circumstantial, but argued that she had established a prima facie case against him.
"The accused's defence is one of a bare denial of being involved in the crimes he is charged with," she said, pointing out that he had never offered a plea explanation.
Galloway said that when Packham testified, he initially came across as confident and even superior at times. His version seemed "well rehearsed".
"He, however, soon demonstrated a marked inability to give plausible explanations for his version and his actions during the relevant times."
When she questioned him or asked for explanations, she felt he gave sarcastic responses, became argumentative, answered by referring to what State witnesses had said, and then blamed others when he couldn't give a plausible answer.
She said Packham had admitted to being dishonest in his communications and conduct, a point that Judge Elize Steyn also made on Wednesday when she said he was economical with the truth in his relationships.
Building up her case like a puzzle, Galloway painted a picture for Steyn, using Packham's conduct around the time of his wife's death and evidence that implicated him.
'If he is innocent...'
In relation to his conduct on February 22, 2018, Packham's phone was on call forwarding and therefore unreachable at the time his wife went missing in the morning and again in the evening, around the time her car was set alight with her body inside.
He asked a colleague for an alibi twice, but did not mention this alibi in his statement to police or to his family at the time. He then changed his version of where he was that morning, said Galloway.
Packham ultimately never reported his wife as missing, changed the tyres on his Audi, missed the appointment he had set up with the investigating officer in favour of a "scenic drive", and gave the incorrect pin for his work phone to police.
"If he is innocent, why would you not want the police to have access to the information on your phone?" Galloway asked.
The court had to answer the question of who killed Gill - an unknown attacker/hijacker or her husband?
Galloway said it was highly improbable that an unknown hijacker would attack Gill outside her home or while she was looking for Packham, and then risk being caught by staying in the area or returning later.
'More probable outcome'
It did not make sense why this hijacker would then set his prize of the green BMW alight.
"A more probable outcome of this scenario would be to just leave the body and make off with the car, or make off with the car and dump the body far from the scene of the crime."
On the proven evidence, she argued, Packham was the assailant as his wife's blood was found in the house and his Audi; he was identified at or near scenes relevant to the crimes; the cell data, CCTV and licence plate recognition implicated him as it did not support his timeline of events; he was identified as the driver of his wife's BMW when it must have already been stolen and she was dead; and lastly, he was identified on the scene where the BMW was set alight.
Galloway said his version was thus not reasonably or possibly true and should be rejected.
The State witnesses had kept to their versions and their evidence was not rebutted, she added.
She argued that Packham should be convicted of murder with direct intent, as he had hit his wife with lethal force, she was smaller in stature than he was, and he had disposed of crucial evidence. He also did not ask for or accept help to find his wife.
On the second charge, Galloway said he was guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
She believed he did this by removing his wife's body from the scene; disposing of the murder weapon, the BMW's number plates, and possibly other items belonging to his wife; setting the BMW alight with her body in the boot; and giving false information to police in order to mislead them about the true identity of the attacker.
The defence will present its closing argument on Thursday.