By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2895

Emma Caldwell’s murderer jailed after years of police sexism and corruption

Emma’s mother says she felt ‘betrayed’ by the original police investigation
Issue 2895
Emma Caldwell

Emma Caldwell

A Scottish court on Wednesday jailed Iain Packer for at least 36 years for the murder of Emma Caldwell in April 2005. The case is an appalling example of the deep corruption and sexism of the police.

Packer was eventually—nearly two decades after Emma’s murder—found guilty of a total of 33 charges of physical and sexual violence against 22 women.

Margaret Caldwell, Emma’s mother, said she felt “betrayed” by the original police investigation into her daughter’s murder. She said she was “angry” it had taken so long for Packer to be brought to justice and that she wanted the truth to come out about what went wrong in 2005.

The Caldwell family’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, is calling for a public inquiry and said officers who worked on the original investigation “must answer for their conduct”, especially as Packer went on to attack other women.

“This is the most prolific sex offender ever in the history of Scotland and one of the most prolific sex offenders in the history of the United Kingdom,” he added.

He said a toxic culture of misogyny and corruption meant the police failed so many women and girls who came forward to speak up against Packer.

“Instead of receiving justice and compassion, they were humiliated, dismissed and in some instances arrested, while the police gifted freedom to an evil predator to rape and rape again,” Anwar said.

Retired cop Willie Mason said the decision by top officers not to charge Packer earlier was catastrophic. “They’ve caused one of the worst injustices. They actually gave licence to Packer to continue his violence towards women.”

Police missed the chance to catch Emma Caldwell’s killer in the months after her murder because senior officers repeatedly dismissed him as a suspect.

Four former detectives who were involved in the earliest stages of the inquiry said evidence of Packer’s violent, abusive and predatory behaviour was known to police from the start of their investigation.

But they said senior officers told them not to pursue Packer and instead wrongly built a case against four Turkish men—who were then cleared.

The case collapsed after it emerged that conversations which the cops recorded during a covert surveillance operation had either been taken out of context or translated incorrectly.

Emma’s body was found in Limefield Woods, 40 miles south-east of Glasgow, in May 2005. Emma was a sex worker, another reason why the police acted so dreadfully. 

Soon after the murder, a woman called Pauline told the police a man had taken her to remote woodland an hour’s drive from Glasgow for sex. She told police the man had forced her to strip, and sexually assaulted her.

Police finally asked Pauline to show them the location six months after she gave that statement. She took them to the exact woods where Emma’s body was found. She then identified the man who took her there as Iain Packer. Police did not arrest him.

In the months that followed Emma’s murder, police took statements from three other women who said Packer had driven them to the remote woods for sex.

Another six women told of being raped and sexually assaulted by Packer in other locations, and he was identified as the man who had raped Emma in the months before her death. But still the police brought no charges against Packer.

Cops spoke to Packer six times between 2005 and 2007. During the fourth statement, in August 2006, he admitted to paying Emma Caldwell for sex, and said he had taken her to a remote spot in the woods.

When Detective Constable David Barr, taking the statement, asked senior officers if he could detain Packer, he was told no.

“I’m told… when you get Iain Packer and bring him in, it doesn’t matter what he tells you—he won’t ever be an accused in this case,” he recalled.

During his sixth and final statement, Packer was asked by detectives to show them the exact location he had taken Emma. It was the same woods where her body had been found. He was driven back to Glasgow—and police did not speak to him again for more than a decade.

Even after police were ordered to reopen the investigation in May 2015, they did not look into Packer.

The case was one of Scotland’s most high-profile unsolved murders until media investigations revealed some of the evidence.

In 2015, Scotland’s Sunday Mail newspaper named Packer as “a forgotten suspect” in the murder inquiry. He then contacted the BBC in 2018 asking to tell his side of the story in an attempt to clear his name.

He was interviewed twice for a documentary called Who Killed Emma? Just hours after the documentary was broadcast, a former partner of Packer contacted the police and told them she had been stalked and attacked by Packer.

He was arrested and jailed for two years in February 2020 after pleading guilty to stalking and attacks. Then, two years later in February 2022, Packer was finally arrested and charged with Emma’s murder.

The cops are rotten to the core.

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