Emma Caldwell murder case: Former detective slams ‘shambolic’ investigation

A former detective who worked on the Emma Caldwell murder case has criticised the police for their ‘shambolic’ handling of the investigation, which led to the wrong suspects being charged and the real killer escaping justice for almost 19 years.

Iain Packer found guilty of killing Emma Caldwell in 2005

Iain Packer, 51, was convicted of murdering Emma Caldwell, a 27-year-old sex worker, in a remote woodland near Biggar, South Lanarkshire, in April 2005. He was also found guilty of 32 other charges of rape, sexual assault, and indecent assault against 22 women, many of whom were also sex workers, over a period of two decades. He will be sentenced next month.

Packer had been a suspect in the case from the early stages of the investigation, but the police failed to detain him or charge him with any offences, despite having evidence of his violent and predatory behaviour towards women. He was also identified by several witnesses as the man who had taken Emma Caldwell to the woods where her body was found, and who had raped her in the months before her death.

Police focused on four Turkish men who were later cleared

Instead of pursuing Packer, the police built a case against four Turkish men who ran a cafe in Glasgow, where Emma Caldwell and other sex workers used to go. The men were arrested in 2007 and charged with her murder, but the case collapsed in 2008 due to lack of evidence and concerns over the police’s conduct.

Emma Caldwell murder case

The police were accused of fabricating evidence, withholding information, and pressuring witnesses to implicate the men. The Crown Office later apologised to the men and their families for the wrongful prosecution.

BBC investigation exposed police’s mistakes and prompted a new inquiry

The case remained unsolved until 2019, when a BBC Scotland investigation revealed the police’s mistakes and negligence in the investigation, and exposed Packer as the prime suspect. The BBC also interviewed Packer, who admitted taking police officers to the woods where Emma Caldwell’s body was found in 2007, but claimed he had nothing to do with her death.

The BBC’s findings prompted the Lord Advocate to order a new inquiry into the case, which led to Packer’s arrest and trial. The jury at the High Court in Glasgow took less than three hours to find him guilty of murder and the other charges.

Former detective says police ignored evidence and wasted resources

John Sallens, a former detective who worked on the Emma Caldwell case in 2005, told the BBC that he was appalled by the police’s investigation, which he described as ‘shambolic’. He said the police ignored the evidence against Packer and wasted time and resources on the wrong suspects.

He said: “It was clear from day one that Packer was a person of interest. He was lying to us, he was taking girls to the woods, he was raping and assaulting them. He was a dangerous man and he should have been stopped.”

He added: “The senior officers who were in charge of the investigation should be held accountable for their actions. They let down Emma Caldwell, they let down her family, they let down the public, and they let down the police service.”

Emma Caldwell’s family hope for closure and justice

Emma Caldwell’s family have been waiting for justice for almost 19 years, and have endured the pain and frustration of seeing the case mishandled and unresolved. They have also campaigned for a public inquiry into the police’s investigation, which has not been granted so far.

Emma’s mother, Margaret Caldwell, died in 2017 without knowing who killed her daughter. Her father, William Caldwell, said he hoped the verdict would bring some closure and peace to his family.

He said: “We are relieved that after all these years we finally have justice for Emma. She was a lovely girl who deserved better. We hope that Packer will face the full consequences of his actions and that no other family will have to suffer like we did.”

By Axel Piper

Axel Piper is a renowned news writer based in Scotland, known for his insightful coverage of all the trending news stories. With his finger on the pulse of Scotland's ever-changing landscape, Axel brings the latest updates and breaking news to readers across the nation. His extensive knowledge of current affairs, combined with his impeccable research skills, allows him to provide accurate and comprehensive reporting on a wide range of topics. From politics to entertainment, sports to technology, Axel's articles are engaging and informative, keeping readers informed and up to date.

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