Rob Packham was sentenced to 22 years in prison this week for the murder of his wife Gill. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Rob Packham harassed his ex-mistress with repeated unwanted phone calls while he was standing trial for the murder of his wife Gill.

Packham, 58, was sentenced this week to an effective 22 years in jail for what Judge Elize Steyn called a “callous, brutal, shocking” killing that she found “morally reprehensible”.

Packham’s phone calls to the mother of two - known throughout the trial as Witness X due to a court order protecting her identity - included one on her 44th birthday on April 30.

Witness X did not answer the call from a Pollsmoor Prison landline. But she received a voice message from Packham wishing her happy birthday and telling her that he missed her.

Packham’s obsession with Witness X has been central to his demise. He murdered Gill in February last year following an argument about his feelings for her. And when she dumped him after he became a wife killer suspect, Packham ignored her lawyers letters and court warnings, relentlessly stalking her until a judge removed his bail.

In the process, he knowingly risked and lost the opportunity to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Yet despite all this and the humiliation of her testifying against him, Packham made a risky birthday call at a sensitive stage of his trial: a week after closing arguments and less than three weeks before Judge Steyn was due to deliver her verdict.

Witness X reported the matter to her lawyer and prosecutor Susan Galloway, indicating that the calls were unwanted and distressed her. She also hoped that a successful conviction would put an end to the calls which she continued to receive on almost a daily basis. On some days, Packham called three times a day.

The calls were from the same number Packham used to wish his ex happy birthday and then increasingly were made from a blocked number.

Although he never said anything during the calls and Witness X could only hear breathing on the other side, past experience convinced her that Packham was the caller.

Packham’s latest episode of harassment was corroborated by several sources and by advocate Galloway. Witness X’s lawyer reserved her right to comment.

“Witness X sent me an email informing me of the birthday call,” said Galloway. “She called and informed me of calls from the same landline number. I called the number back. It went to voice mail and I left a message detailing who I am and that I have received information that the phone is being used by Mr Rob Packham to call one of my witnesses and that he is harassing her.

“Should the calls continue, I will take the matter further. When the calls were made we were unable to take any further action for several reasons.

“Witness X had already testified and Packham’s bail had already been withdrawn in December for harassing the witness. I also had no way of having the evidence admitted at that late stage of the trial. It would not have made any difference to his sentence - it would just have confirmed his personality.

“Instead I advised (her) to consider an order in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act which works on a similar basis to the Domestic Violence Act.”

Correctional Services ware unaware of Packham’s behaviour with a senior source saying that the department had not received any official complaint from Witness X.

He said the harassment would be investigated and factored into upcoming psychologist and social worker assessments of Packham that will determine which maximum security facility he will be sent to. It could also affect Packham’s rights and privileges as he begins his rehabilitation, he said.

Weekend Argus