Soil evidence links suspect’s van to Emma Caldwell’s body site, court hears

The trial of Iain Packer, who is accused of murdering sex worker Emma Caldwell in 2005, continued on Wednesday with forensic evidence from a soil expert.

Soil samples matched location of body

Dr Stefan Uitdehaag, from the Netherlands Forensic Institute, told the High Court in Glasgow that he was commissioned by Police Scotland to analyse soil samples from the forest where Ms Caldwell’s body was found and from the footwell of Packer’s van. He said he used a technique called palynology, which studies the composition of pollen and spores in soil, to calculate the “ecological distance” between the samples.

He said the results showed that the soil sample from the van was “much more likely” to have come from the same location as the samples from the forest, rather than from a random other location in Scotland. He said the odds were “100 times to 10,000 times more likely”, or a “99.99%” chance, that they came from the same spot. He said three of the samples from the forest, including one from a ditch where Ms Caldwell was found, fitted the sample from the van “very well”.

The forensic scientist said the results supported the proposition that the sample from the van came from the same location as the other samples.

Packer denies murder and other charges

Packer, 50, denies murdering Ms Caldwell, 27, by strangling her on 5 April 2005 in Limefield Woods near Biggar, South Lanarkshire, and concealing her body. He also faces 46 charges involving a number of women, including rape, abduction and assault. He has lodged special defences of incrimination, consent, defence of another and self-defence.

Emma Caldwell’s body site

The court heard that Ms Caldwell went missing in 2005 while she was working as a sex worker in Glasgow. Her body was later recovered in woodland in South Lanarkshire. The jury was taken to Limefield Woods last week to see the site where her body was found.

Alleged victim of rape gives evidence

The court also heard from a woman who claimed that Packer raped her when she was 14 or 15 years old in the early 1990s. She said he repeatedly abused her whenever he “had the chance” and threatened to tell others that she had “started this” if she resisted. She said he raped her at a flat in Glasgow’s west end after returning from a party.

She said she told her family and Packer’s parents about the abuse, but they did not believe her. She said Packer’s parents wanted her “arrested” for making accusations. She said she gave statements to the police in 2006 and 2015.

Packer’s lawyer, Ronnie Renucci QC, suggested that there was no sexual contact between Packer and the woman, and that he would have been taking an “enormous risk” to carry out the attacks when others could have caught him. The woman denied this.

The trial, before judge Lord Matthews, continues.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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