Cape Town - “This gentleman has shown that he could be a good actor.”
These are the words of Western Cape High Court Judge Elizabeth Steyn as she referred to Rob Packham living a double life.
He is on trial for the murder of his wife Gill Packham, and also faces a charge of defeating the ends of justice for allegedly setting her car alight with her body in the boot at Diep River railway station on February 22.
During the defence’s closing arguments, Judge Steyn questioned Packham’s character and conduct.
“This man has shown to be a good actor, he led a double life and deceived his wife and daughter by continuing to see Mrs X (his mistress who cannot be named because of a court order) and seeing divorce lawyers while in marriage counselling.
“If he is able to deceive people on that aspect, what should I take on this?” she asked.
She also explored the defence’s argument that Packham, despite being allegedly observed leaving the crime scene by a witness, would return a few minutes later and risk being identified.
Judge Steyn said Packham’s reaction of not going close to the burnt car and being annoyed when receiving trauma counselling was strange.
“If my husband was potentially burning in a car, I most certainly would have gone to see what was going on.”
Defence lawyer, advocate Craig Webster argued that by leaving the scene and not going closer, Packham was merely following police instructions.
Webster argued that the evidence of state witnesses who allegedly saw Packham in separate incidents should be rejected.
Paul Gray identified Packham in the dock and in an identity parade photos. He said he had seen Packham driving his wife’s car in Luscious Way, Constantia.
“The accused on the day was wearing a long-sleeve Twizza shirt with dark chinos.”
Gray said he was a white male in shorts.
“His dock demonstration was unreliable and due to his eyesight, what he saw is questionable,” said Webster.
He also poked holes in Keenan Thomas’s identification. In a statement to police, Thomas said he saw a coloured man, light in complexion aged 30 to 35.
“Evidence was tailored at a later stage as it didn’t fit with the information given,” said Webster.
He added the identity parade was plagued with irregularities and tainted.
Webster submitted that it was done seven weeks later after photos of the accused were already splashed on the front page of various newspapers and on social media.
“The identity parade was a farce and artificial; it can’t be fair process as it was self-fulling,” he said.