No evidence links murder accused to Caldwell on night she vanished, trial told

The lawyer defending a man accused of murdering Emma Caldwell has told jurors there is not “one piece” of evidence linking the two the night she went missing.

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.

Defending, Ronnie Renucci KC told jurors on Wednesday that Packer is “prepared to accept responsibility for his actions” and is “not trying to hide the fact” he went to Limefield Woods with sex workers.

Mr Renucci asked jurors: “If Iain Packer was responsible for her death, was he really going to be so stupid as to dump her body there and leave it to be found?”

He said there was no phone communication between Packer and Miss Caldwell on April 4, 2005.

Mr Renucci said: “Whatever way you want to dress it, there is no evidence of any communication between Iain Packer and Emma Caldwell that night.”

He said there is “not one piece of evidence” showing Packer was in the area of Glasgow’s red light district known as the drag the night Miss Caldwell was last seen.

Mr Renucci said: “If there is one person who was not a stranger to the red light district, that was Iain Packer.

“There is nothing to place Iain Packer at the scene. No DNA, no bodily fluids, nothing.

“There is no other evidence to suggest Iain Packer was anywhere near the city centre that night.”

Mr Renucci appeared to suggest that had Packer been in the red light district on the evening of April 4, 2005, he would have been spotted, adding: “We are not talking about a nondescript car here. There is only one van with all that signage and that is (Packer’s) blue van.”

He said there is “no CCTV footage whatsoever” and no evidence of any sightings of Packer that night.

Miss Caldwell’s body was found in Limefield Woods on May 8, 2005 but Mr Renucci said there was no DNA evidence.

Glasgow sex crimes court case
Iain Packer is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)

The defence lawyer told jurors to disregard evidence that Packer had lied to police and to BBC journalist Samantha Polling.

He said: “Iain Packer lied to police and lied about knowing Emma Caldwell.

“So what? He accepts he lied about that. He didn’t want to be charged with something he didn’t do.

“Mr Packer lied to her (Ms Polling). So what? He has not been the only person to tell lies in this case.”

Mr Renucci told jurors Packer had contacted Ms Polling because he had concerns about the way he was portrayed in the media and in the press “out of desperation”.

He added: “He was trying to clear his name when he lied to her. It didn’t change anything he said to the police.

“It is easy to make Iain Packer the bogeyman in all of this.

“But you must step back and think objectively.

“If he is this person (who murdered Emma Caldwell), how on Earth did he get away with it for all these years right under the noses of the police?

“The truth is, I would suggest, it is not him.

“This is not television, you have got one chance to make the right decision. You cannot come back next week and have another go.”

Mr Renucci insisted there is “reasonable doubt” that Packer is guilty of many of the 36 offences he is charged, claiming there have been inconsistencies in witness evidence.

Ending his speech, Mr Renucci urged jurors not to convict Packer of the murder of Miss Caldwell.

But earlier, prosecutor Richard Goddard KC told jurors in his closing speech that Miss Caldwell’s murder was the “most horrifying chapter” in an “appalling course of sexual violence” by Packer over two decades.

He urged jurors to convict on all charges, and outlined evidence which he said enabled this.

This included analysis of soil taken from Packer’s vehicle and the site where Miss Caldwell’s body was found, which Mr Goddard said was the “most damning” evidence against the accused.

Forensic scientist Lorna Dawson previously told the trial that samples taken from Limefield Woods and samples taken from Packer’s van had a 97% rate of accuracy for a match.

Closing speeches for the Crown and the defence have been completed and jurors will receive legal directions from judge Lord Beckett before retiring to consider their verdicts.

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