Man sentenced to life for murder of Emma Caldwell 19 years after her death

Emma Caldwell

Emma Caldwell was murdered in 2005, with killer Iain Packer convicted today

James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 28/02/2024

- 15:14

Updated: 28/02/2024

- 17:20

It has taken almost two decades for justice after Caldwell went missing in Glasgow in 2005

Serial rapist Iain Packer has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 36 years after being found guilty of the 2005 murder of sex worker Emma Caldwell following a High Court trial in Glasgow, bringing an end to one of Scotland's longest ever cold cases.

Packer, 51, was found guilty of indecently assaulting and murdering the 27-year-old Caldwell, who went missing in Glasgow in April 2005 before her body was found just north of the Scottish border a month later.

He was also convicted of raping 11 women among dozens of other charges at the conclusion of the six-week trial in Glasgow’s High Court.

Caldwell had disappeared only days after telling her mother Margaret she was hoping to kick her addiction to heroin, which had started after a family bereavement a few years prior.

Caldwell's mother, family and solicitor

Caldwell's mother Margaret, pictured alongside solicitors and family members today


She was reported missing after she didn’t reply when her family tried to contact her about changing the time of a planned meeting.

Caldwell was found with a “garotte” around her neck in some woodland by a dog walker on May 8, 2005.

A 2021 soil sample from the site Caldwell’s body was found was a “97 per cent match” with soil found in Packer’s work van, the court heard.

Packer denied all 36 charges, accusing all the women of lying, but did admit to the indecent assault of Caldwell during evidence.


Emma Caldwell

Emma Caldwell, pictured here in a family handout and on CCTV from a police appeal from 2005


He said he was “ashamed” of his actions toward Caldwell and said other behaviour of his towards more sex workers was “disgusting”.

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

The court heard evidence from multiple women about Packer’s horrific attacks on them.

Prosecutor Richard Goddard KC said the defendant was a “obsessive” and “violent” user of sex workers, and had an “unhealthy addiction” to procuring their services.

Iain Packer

Packer, pictured in a police interview and mugshot, was described as "obsessive" and "violent"

Police Scotland

Police Scotland apologised to Caldwell’s family and more of Packer’s victims for having been “let down” by policing in 2005, particularly for failings in their investigation into the former’s death.

Assistant Chief Constable for Major Crime and Public Protection Bex Smith said: “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.

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

Glasgow High Court

Packer was sentenced to life imprisonment at the High Court in Glasgow (pictured) today


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

“This was an extremely challenging re-investigation and without doubt the largest police enquiry of recent times in Scotland.”

Her murder became one of the longest cold cases in Scottish history – despite having been interviewed by police in 2005, it has taken until today for a conviction and sentencing.

Her family said Police Scotland failed their daughter and the rape victims of Iain Packer due to a “toxic culture of misogyny and corruption”, adding in a statement: “Instead of receiving justice and compassion, they were humiliated, dismissed and in some instances arrested, whilst the police gifted freedom to an evil predator to rape and rape again.”

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