A film-maker’s campaign for justice in one of Britain’s most complex and high-profile murder cases continues as another parole date looms for the killer.
The Investigator: A British Crime Story, a four-part series which aired on ITV last year, and available on Netflix, looked into the disappearance and murder of Veronica ‘Carole’ Packman.
Carole, a mum of one, disappeared in 1985, aged 40, and while her husband, Russell Causley, is in prison for her murder, he refuses to reveal what happened to her and where her body is.
Watch Samantha talking to This Morning ahead of the ITV airing:
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Samantha Gillingham, the only daughter of Causley and Mrs Packman, and her son Neil, are still on a quest to find out the truth about what happened to Carole.
With yet another parole hearing scheduled for 15th December at HMP Littlehey in Cambridge, Neil wants to know why his grandfather could be freed still withholding the truth and says he and his mum are ‘worried’ what he’ll do.
Neil told UNILAD:
I grew up in the Midlands and I’ve grown up knowing something was fundamentally wrong about my family.
It was four years ago when I took an active role in getting this investigation off the ground – my mum got a call from the family liaison offer to say during a parole hearing my grandfather had admitted to murdering my grandma.
Samantha was just 16 when she and her father returned from a day out to find a note left alongside her mother’s wedding ring telling them she had left and wasn’t coming back.
On the surface the couple looked as though they were living an ‘ordinary life’ at the home on the outskirts of Bournemouth, both with well-paid jobs in the aerospace industry.
Neil, 27, told UNILAD his grandfather was a ‘catch me if you can’ type of man who had ‘blagged’ his way to success.
Ultimately he didn’t have any qualifications. He got a well-paid job, my grandparents had his and hers Rolex watches, his and hers cars, they were well-off.
I think they committed fraud, they went to Canada but were only there about two weeks, sold the house and came back with no money. My grandfather left aviation and set up an insurance business and hired Patricia Causley.
Patricia sold her flat and gave the money to grandparents on the condition she lived with them. This led to an affair between my grandfather and Patricia.
My grandma [Carole] stayed in the house but it was like a pressure cooker, and eventually she said she’d rather burn the house down than have Patricia live there – so started divorce proceedings, saw her doctor and was never seen since.
Russell then changed his surname to Causley – the same name as Patricia.
Things then took a serious turn and in 1993 when Russell Causley was convicted of faking his own death and his web of lies began to unravel.
Neil told UNILAD:
My grandfather, Patricia and a couple of others took a yacht over the Channel and had dinner in Guernsey. Russell booked a hovercraft back, and Patricia and the others took the yacht back over but in the middle of the Channel ‘man overboard’ was called.
Two days later, he was still missing, and Patricia put in an insurance claim – which triggered authorities to become suspicious. They then saw lots of insurance claims – they then realised Patricia wasn’t my grandmother, which led them to ask, ‘where is Mrs Packman?’
When police arrested Russell, he went to prison and he told other prisoners: ‘it could be worse, I could be here for murder’. They then told the authorities.
Patricia had used Carole’s identity multiple times in Italy, Germany and Canada after my grandmother had disappeared as well as signing the property over in 1993.
Russell Causley was jailed for Carole’s murder in December 1996 following a trial at Winchester Crown Court, but his conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal in June 2003.
He was found guilty a second time and handed a life sentence following a retrial in April 2004. But with the upcoming parole date and still no answers, Neil is questioning who is truly serving the sentence.
Neil told UNILAD:
We have my grandfather, who has two parole hearings this year, a man who in 2014 admitted to, for the first time in three decades, spoke about what he’d done and then retracted it on television.
He’s tormenting my mother, she’s fearful knowing he could soon be out there, and wanting to seek revenge.
We have a man sat in prison for 23 years, getting more bitter, who’s really serving the sentence – him, or me and my mum?
I really need Helen’s Law, cannot sleep until my grandfather can’t get out without giving us the facts.
Former pub landlord, Ian Simms, is serving a life sentence for the 22-year-old Helen’s murder – he was convicted based on overwhelming DNA evidence, but has refused to disclose the location of her body.
Neil has met families who have lost somebody and have never been told of their loved one’s whereabouts, including the family of Keith Bennett who was murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. He says not being able to bury their loved ones only prolongs the agony of the families.
As if having somebody murdered isn’t enough, you have a lifetime of not knowing, and it’s not fair.
407,000 people support us, we need more support, whilst it’s great that we have such support we need the MPs to listen to us.
This law would not stop people appealing their sentence or conviction, it would not remove their right to a fair trial but it would stop killers who have never cooperated, never spoken, from torturing their victims without first providing tangible evidence of the victims remains or cause of death.
Both Samantha and Neil worked with Simon Cowell, and Mark Williams-Thomas, the former detective responsible for exposing Jimmy Savile as a sex abuser to make the series.
The investigation takes Williams-Thomas to Canada and the Channel Islands, and he speaks with witnesses in the US, Italy, Germany, and France.
— Karnstein (@atomicginge) October 17, 2017
On the Change.org page, Helen’s mother, Marie writes:
For almost three decades Simms has refused to reveal the whereabouts of Helen’s body – denying us the chance to grant her the dignity of a funeral and resting place.
The case made legal history as only the third ever UK murder trial without a body. Sadly, as killers go to ever-desperate lengths to hide evidence and evade justice such cases have become more common. Without stiffer penalties they will continue to rise.
In January 2016 a Parole Board will decide on Simms’ application for freedom. As it currently stands, the English legal system does not require a convicted murderer (at the end of their determined tariff) to admit guilt or reveal the location of a victim’s remains before being released.
— #HelensLaw (@HelensLaw1) November 18, 2016
If you have any information on the case, please contact Dorset Police on 01202 222 222.
The Investigator: A British Crime Story is available to watch on Netflix now.