UK

Emma Caldwell failed by police due to ‘misogyny and corruption’, family claim

Iain Packer has been found guilty of murdering the 27-year-old in 2005 and a string of rapes in the years after.

Emma Caldwell’s mother Margaret said police ‘have blood on their hands’
Margaret Caldwell Emma Caldwell’s mother Margaret said police ‘have blood on their hands’ (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The family of Emma Caldwell have said police failed their daughter and the rape victims of her killer Iain Packer due to a “toxic culture of misogyny and corruption”.

In a statement after he was convicted of murdering the 27-year-old in 2005, her family said: “Instead of receiving justice and compassion, they (the victims) were humiliated, dismissed and in some instances arrested, whilst the police gifted freedom to an evil predator to rape and rape again.”

Packer, 51, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 36 years after being found guilty on Wednesday.

She went missing in Glasgow on April 4, 2005, and her body was found in Limefield Woods, near Roberton, South Lanarkshire, the following month.

Packer – who was first interviewed by the police a month after her body was found – was also convicted of 11 charges of rape against nine women and 21 other offences over a period of 26 years, following a six-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Police Scotland has apologised to the family of Miss Caldwell and his other victims, admitting they were “let down” by policing.

Iain Packer has been jailed for life for murder and a string of rapes
Iain Packer Iain Packer has been jailed for life for murder and a string of rapes (Police Scotland/PA)

But speaking outside court following the sentencing, the Caldwell family’s lawyer Aamer Anwar said her mother Margaret believes police officers have “blood on their hands”.

The family have called for a public inquiry into failures by the authorities.

Mr Anwar said: “We now know Packer carried out rapes, sexual offences and assaults some 19 times after Emma’s murder in 2005.

“Margaret believes that officers sabotaged an investigation into Packer for a decade and have blood on their hands. For far too long they have remained in the shadows, but must now answer for their betrayal.

“Today Margaret Caldwell calls on the Scottish Government to order an independent, judge-led public inquiry into what went wrong.

“The scale of the crimes and the failures are so catastrophic that nothing less than a judicial public inquiry will suffice. Neither the police nor Crown Office can be allowed or trusted to investigate themselves and their former bosses.

“In the coming days we will meet with the First Minister, Lord Advocate and Chief Constable.

“If there is no time limit on justice, then any officers, retired or not, suspected of criminality must be prosecuted and those in our criminal justice system who gave Packer his freedom should finally be held to account.”

Emma Caldwell’s mother Margaret, with the family solicitor, outside the High Court in Glasgow after Iain Packer was found guilty of murder
Emma Caldwell's mother Margaret, with the family solicitor, outside the High Court in Glasgow after Iain Packer was found guilty of murder Emma Caldwell’s mother Margaret, with the family solicitor, outside the High Court in Glasgow after Iain Packer was found guilty of murder (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Following Packer’s conviction, Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bex Smith said: “Emma Caldwell, her family and many other victims were let down by policing in 2005. For that we are sorry.

“A significant number of women and girls who showed remarkable courage to speak up at that time also did not get the justice and support they needed and deserved from Strathclyde Police.”

She added: “Significant changes have been made in recent years to improve our organisational culture and our response, particularly in respect of investigative structures, victim care and processes to these types of crimes.”

Emma Caldwell turned to drugs after a family bereavement and her habit led to sex work
Emma Caldwell Emma Caldwell turned to drugs after a family bereavement and her habit led to sex work

The Crown Office carried out “a full independent investigation of all allegations of potential criminality involving police officers in the original investigation into the death of Emma Caldwell” but insufficient evidence of criminality was found.

Miss Caldwell, a sex worker at the time, vanished days after telling her mother about her hopes to kick a heroin addiction, which began following a family bereavement in her early 20s.

She came from a close-knit family and saw both parents twice a week and spoke to them daily, and was reported missing after she failed to respond to attempts by them to change a planned meeting.

A dog walker found Miss Caldwell’s body in woodland, with a “garotte” around her neck, on May 8, 2005.

Sentencing him, Judge Lord Beckett branded Packer’s crimes “pathological, selfish and criminal sexual desires”, and said he “looked for vulnerability and exploited it”, causing “extreme and enduring suffering for so many women and their families”.

He described Margaret Caldwell’s quest for justice as “a living testimony to her love for her daughter and the enormity of her loss” and said only a life sentence could be given.

Miss Caldwell was described as “wanting to help the vulnerable with a heart of gold”, by her brother Jamie, who said he had been “tortured by how she must have died”.

The judge told Packer: “You murdered a capable and compassionate intelligent young woman who had planned to extricate herself from the difficult life she had been living.”

Emma Caldwell, centre right, pictured with her family
Emma Caldwell and family Emma Caldwell, centre right, pictured with her family

During Packer’s trial, the court heard a soil sample taken in 2021 from the site where Miss Caldwell’s body was found was a “97% match” with soil found in his blue work van, and Packer was charged by police in February 2022.

Packer denied all the charges – accusing all the women of lying – but admitted during evidence that he indecently assaulted Miss Caldwell.

He said he was “ashamed” of his actions towards her, and described his behaviour towards another sex worker as “disgusting”.

But he denied murdering Miss Caldwell, saying in evidence: “It wasn’t me who killed her. It wasn’t me. I didn’t do anything to her.”

He lodged a special defence of incrimination against four Turkish men, later reduced to two, claiming they were responsible for Miss Caldwell’s murder.

The police investigation initially focused on the four men who were arrested in 2007 after a two-year surveillance operation on a cafe in Glasgow following interviews with other sex workers, but the case collapsed after issues with translation.

Soil samples found in Iain Packer’s van proved to be crucial in securing his conviction
Iain Packer's van Soil samples found in Iain Packer’s van proved to be crucial in securing his conviction (Police Scotland/PA)

Prosecutor Richard Goddard KC described Packer as a “violent” and “obsessive” user of sex workers with an “unhealthy addiction” to procuring their services.

The jury took four days to return their verdicts.

Two charges of sex assault and one of indecent assault were found not proven.