UK

Jury considers verdict in trial of man accused of Emma Caldwell murder

Iain Packer, 51, denies a total of 36 charges involving offences against 25 women.

The jury has retired to consider its verdict in the the trial of the man accused of murdering Emma Caldwell
Emma Caldwell The jury has retired to consider its verdict in the the trial of the man accused of murdering Emma Caldwell (Family Handout/PA)

A jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of a man accused of murdering Emma Caldwell almost two decades ago.

Iain Packer, 51, is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow accused of murdering Miss Caldwell, 27, who vanished in Glasgow on April 4, 2005 and whose body was found in Limefield Woods, near Roberton, South Lanarkshire, the following month.

He faces a total of 36 charges involving offences against 25 women, all of which he denies.

During the trial lasting just over four weeks, jurors heard evidence from witnesses whom Packer is alleged to have raped, assaulted, sexually and indecently assaulted, as well as police officers involved in the investigation and forensic experts.

Packer also gave evidence in his own defence.

The jury visited the site where Emma Caldwell’s body was found
Emma Caldwell murder court case The jury visited the site where Emma Caldwell’s body was found (Sarah Ward/PA)

The court heard Packer knew Miss Caldwell and would solicit her as a sex worker.

Evidence from Packer’s police statements, read to the court, showed he lied to officers about knowing Miss Caldwell.

He initially told police he had only seen Miss Caldwell three or four times, but then later admitted he had been with her “no more than 15 times”.

Packer told the court he was ashamed of forcing a sex act he paid Miss Caldwell for, when he gave evidence.

Judge Lord Beckett directed the jury to convict him of this charge and also of abducting a woman, preventing her from leaving a house and detaining her against her will.

Giving evidence, Packer denied murdering Miss Caldwell or having any involvement in her death.

In his closing speech, advocate depute Richard Goddard KC told jurors Packer “lied and lied again” and was a “violent and obsessive” user of sex workers.

Mr Goddard said Packer had a “peculiar habit” of driving around with young women “in the middle of nowhere”.

The prosecutor said Packer’s alleged murder of Miss Caldwell was “the most horrifying chapter in an appalling course of sexual violence towards women which lasted more than two decades”.

Jurors visited the location where Miss Caldwell’s body was found at Limefield Woods.

They heard from forensic scientists who analysed soil samples from Packer’s van and the location where Miss Caldwell was found, showing a similarity of 97% accuracy.

Emma Caldwell’s mother, Margaret, has attended court throughout the trial, and gave evidence
Margaret Caldwell Emma Caldwell’s mother, Margaret, has attended court throughout the trial, and gave evidence (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Defending Packer, Ronnie Renucci KC told the court he was “not an apologist” for Packer and urged jurors to be fair to him.

Mr Renucci said Packer changing his story was not an attempt to be obstructive.

He said there was “no evidence” linking Packer and Miss Caldwell on the evening of her disappearance on April 4, 2005.

He said: “If Iain Packer was responsible for her death, was he really going to be so stupid as to dump her body there (at Limefield Woods) and leave it to be found?”

Mr Renucci also said there was “not one piece of evidence” placing Packer in Glasgow city centre on the evening Miss Caldwell was last seen.

When Miss Caldwell’s body was found, Mr Renucci told jurors there was “no DNA, no blood, no fibres, no fingerprints, no bodily fluids linking him to her death”.

Mr Renucci said: “If he is this person, how on Earth did he get away with it for so long right under the noses of the police?”

The trial also heard from Margaret Caldwell, 76, Miss Caldwell’s mother, who maintained a close relationship with her daughter after she moved to Glasgow in 2002.

Miss Caldwell was due to meet her mother on April 6, 2005 and Mrs Caldwell became emotional in court when she told of her inability to contact her daughter.

She said the last words she heard from her daughter were: “Bye mum, phone you Monday or Tuesday.”

Following several hours of legal direction, judge Lord Beckett sent the jury out to consider its verdict on Friday morning.