Rob Packham was adamant in the dock on Monday that he did not kill his wife Gill or dispose of her body. The State however tried to elicit his views on what may have happened to the school administrator outside their Constantia home in February last year.
“According to you, her death that day [February 22, 2018] must have been as a result of a random attack or hijacking. Somebody hijacked her with her green BMW,” prosecutor Susan Galloway directed to Packham in the Western Cape High Court.
“I think so,” replied Packham, saying that he could not give other possibilities for what had happened in Riesling Road.
She had left for work around 7:00 and he, around 07:30.
“She may have been attacked in the garage. I don’t know. I didn’t follow her to the garage when she left,” he said.
Galloway said that Gill didn’t appear to have any enemies. With one or two forceful blows to the head, the attacker must have had the intent of killing her, especially because of her small stature. Packham agreed.
Galloway asked if there had been a break-in or robbery at their home the previous night and he replied no.
She then asked if there could be a break-in or robbery at various points the next day during the search for his wife when he (Packham) was at home.
“Nothing at all, my lady,” he replied.
Galloway asked if he discovered anything missing in or out of the house after Gill’s BMW was found and he knew the burnt body inside was that of his wife.
He said he discovered nothing of the sort, except that her bag and phone were never recovered.
Packham said that when he reversed out of the garage that morning, he noticed some builder’s vehicles in the way but nothing untoward.
“I had no reason to believe anything had happened to Gill,” he said.
Galloway turned to CCTV footage from a nearby home in the same street.
“About four minutes after you left home, your wife’s vehicle is seen driving past…,” Galloway noted from a still of the footage.
She said that in the original footage, it was her opinion that the vehicle was driving slowly, not fast as in trying to get away.
Packham said he had not seen the footage.
White male driving
Galloway said she could see a white male driving the vehicle. “I note that,” replied Packham.
He continued: “When I left home, I went the other way. I went towards the car dealerships. I was unable to reverse out [that way] because of vehicles blocking our drive.”
She asked if he was saying his wife drove past that camera at 07:34 to which he replied: “I never said that. I don’t know who was driving her vehicle.”
Galloway pointed out that the front number plate was not on the vehicle in the footage.
Packham said he had looked for his wife’s number plates but never found them.
He agreed that he was the last person to see Gill alive.
When Galloway put it to him that the first time anybody saw him that day was when he arrived at his workplace at 09:50, he said “I think that is probably true”.
He tried to call Gill twice when he found out she had not pitched up at work but her phone went straight to voicemail. He said he did not phone her later but other loved ones kept trying.
Packham also answered questions around his relationship with Gill and his lover.
He said he and Gill had worked hard in counselling and his lover “was well aware of that and had unselfishly encouraged me to see that process through”.
“I was 100% committed to the reconciliation process and to our marriage counselling process. I did not know what the outcome was going to be,” he explained.
He said Gill had a draft divorce agreement which they looked at but it was only one of the options.
On the conversation he had with his lover the day before his wife died, he said: “There was no ultimatum, there was no deadline, there was no pressure or discussion on the 21st [February] that was looking to force a solution.”
He conceded, however, that he may have mentioned in that conversation he would need to make a decision about the future at some point.
The trial continues on Tuesday.