Rob Packham is on trial for murder and obstructing the ends of justice. He is accused of killing his wife, Gill Packham. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Alleged wife killer Rob Packham told his therapist lover that Gill’s “abusive behaviour” drove him from their marital home.

Packham had a relationship with the Cape Town therapist, 49, for over a year while he was also cheating on his wife with his long-time mistress.

“Rob told me he and Gill had a good marriage up until about five years before we met in January 2016 through a mutual acquaintance,” said the therapist, who requested anonymity to protect her professional reputation.

“Then Gill started changing, becoming very aggressive and verbally abusive, not only towards him but their daughters, until it got to the point where they moved out. The whole family set-up was dysfunctional.

“Rob told me they went to stay in one of Gill’s flats in Claremont and his eldest, Kerry, then went to the UK and Nicola to Stellenbosch University.”

Two independent sources close to Gill contested the therapist’s account.

“I don’t believe that for a moment,” said one. “Gill would have told me if Rob had moved out with the girls. Besides, they needed the money from her B&Bs. They couldn’t afford to live in two places. Rob lied to everybody - including this lover.”

This week, Judge Elize Steyn put it more diplomatically when she noted that Packham had proved himself to be a “very good actor” by living a double life where he claimed he was trying to save his marriage while planning a weekend getaway with mistress X.

But his therapist mistress says Gill’s verbal and emotional abuse was corroborated by another source after her murder. It has also come to light that cops investigating Gill’s murder were told this source was willing to testify. However, the therapist did admit she had never interrogated Packham’s role in the family dysfunction... because he was not her client.

She said she “felt okay” with her affair when “Rob told me he was separated and wasn’t living with Gill. He was very upfront about it and I took him at face value”.

Unbeknown to her, when she got involved with Packham he was in another secret relationship with a human resources manager and divorced mother of two from Table View whom he had met in October 2015 at a BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism) nightclub.

According to a court order, the woman, 43, cannot be named and was referred to as Witness X.

“I didn’t know about the other lady,” said the therapist, who only heard about her following his arrest. “I don’t feel resentful or angry. I can’t stand in judgement of other people.”

Packham also told her that while separated, he saw Gill every Saturday when he went to walk their dogs. “He told me they would barely acknowledge one another and he didn’t know how things had got that bad.”

Then in December 2016, Packham asked her opinion about him moving back home. “He said Gill had asked him to come back because of the cost of maintaining their home. He also wanted to keep up his happy family appearances for his visiting parents.”

She continued the relationship for another two months before breaking it off in February 2018 due to emotional distress following the suicide of her estranged partner of 30 years.

She says although she is a “really good judge of character”, she did begin questioning herself as Packham’s trial unfolded. Nevertheless, she still maintains that she knew a different Packham to the one portrayed by the media. “He was an absolute gentleman. A really respectful, very kind and gentle person.”

He also wasn’t the sex addict portrayed in the media, though she knew of his BDSM club encounters. “All this stuff about kinky sex and S&M, I never saw that once. He didn’t bring any handcuffs anywhere near me.”

She says she got the sense that Packham found “emotional nurturing” in their relationship.

Despite the negative publicity, his therapist lover still has a soft spot for him. “Part of me feels sorry for Rob because the whole story hasn’t been told and he has protected Gill in his trial. He hasn’t said one bad word about her. He’s never bad-mouthed her as a mother, a wife or anything.”

Final arguments wrapped up this week. Judgment will be heard on May 16.

Weekend Argus