Murdered Emma Caldwell ‘let down by policing’ as killer jailed for 36 years

Police Scotland’s Assistant Chief Constable Bex Smith has apologised to the family of murdered Emma Caldwell and the many other victims, admitting they were “let down by policing in 2005”.

Feb 29, 2024
By Paul Jacques
Iain Packer

She said it was clear that further investigations should have been carried out by Strathclyde Police following the initial inquiry into Ms Caldwell’s murder.

Fifty-one-year-old Iain Packer was convicted at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday (February 28) of killing the 27-year-old and hiding her body.

Ms Caldwell was last seen on CCTV around 11pm on Monday, April 4, 2005, walking alone on Butterbiggins Road towards Victoria Road on the southside of Glasgow.

She was reported missing by her family on April 11 and her body was found in Limefield Woods, near Biggar, on Sunday, May 8, 2005.

Packer was also convicted of a number charges involving violent and sexual crimes against a number of women over many years.

He was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to serve a minimum of 36 years behind bars.

Ms Smith said they have “reflected and learnt from the initial investigation and subsequent reinvestigation”.

“Emma Caldwell, her family and many other victims, were let down by policing in 2005. For that we are sorry,” she said.

“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.

“Police Scotland launched a re-investigation of the case in 2015 after instruction from the Lord Advocate.

“It is clear that further investigations should have been carried out into Emma’s murder following the initial inquiry in 2005.

“The lack of investigation until 2015 caused unnecessary distress to her family and all those women who had come forward to report sexual violence.

“It is the courage, resilience and determination shown by Emma’s family, in particular her parents William and Margaret, and all those who survived Iain Packer’s horrific catalogue of offending that got us to where we are today.

“William is, sadly, no longer here to see this day, but I hope this verdict gives Margaret and all those affected by this case, the justice they deserve.”

Ms Smith, assistant chief constable for major crime and public protection, added: “This was an extremely challenging re-investigation and without doubt the largest police inquiry of recent times in Scotland.

“Over seven years, a full review of the original inquiry by Strathclyde Police in 2005 was completed.

“More than 30,000 documents and statements were gathered and reviewed along with in excess of 23,000 productions. New forensic tests were carried out and new witnesses were identified and interviewed, leading to the convictions today.

“Iain Packer was a calculating sexual predator who targeted women over many years. It is hard to comprehend how anyone could carry out such despicable, ruthless acts.

“He took Emma’s life for his own gratification in the most appalling circumstances and cruelly left her body in remote woods hoping to cover his tracks.

“But time is no barrier to justice and I would urge anyone who has been the victim of sexual violence to please come forward and speak to us.

“You will be listened to and you will be supported – no matter when the offences took place.

“We have reflected and learnt from the initial investigation and subsequent re-investigation.  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.”

Ms Smith said Police Scotland’s Violence against Women and Girls Strategy demonstrates its “absolute commitment to tackling the violence and abuse that disproportionately affects women and girls”.

“What shone through to the inquiry team throughout the investigations into Emma’s life was her gentle personality, and I want to finish by saying that our thoughts remain with Emma, her family and all those affected by this terrible case,” she added.

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