Man jailed for life for murder of Emma Caldwell in 2005

Serial rapist Iain Packer has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 36 years after being found guilty of murdering Emma Caldwell in 2005.

Packer, 51, was found guilty on Wednesday of murdering Miss Caldwell, 27, who went missing in Glasgow on April 4, 2005, and whose body was found in Limefield Woods, near Roberton, South Lanarkshire, the following month.

He 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 for being “let down” by policing in 2005.

Packer was first interviewed by police the month after Miss Caldwell’s body was found.

Emma Caldwell
Emma Caldwell turned to drugs after a family bereavement and her habit led to sex work (family handout/PA)

Following his conviction, Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bex Smith said in a statement: “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.”

Miss Caldwell vanished days after telling her mother Margaret 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.

Emma Caldwell and family
Emma Caldwell, centre right, pictured with her family (family handout/PA)

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 workers as “disgusting”.

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

Margaret Caldwell
Emma Caldwell’s mother, Margaret, attended the trial at the High Court in Glasgow, and gave evidence (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The trial heard evidence from multiple women about Packer’s brutal attacks on them.

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

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

The jury took four days to return their verdicts.