Timeline of events leading to the conviction of Iain Packer

The murder of Emma Caldwell in 2005 became one of Scotland’s longest cold cases, with 19 years between when Iain Packer was first interviewed by police and when he was convicted.

Packer also was convicted of 11 charges of rape against nine women among dozens of other offences following a six-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

He admitted lying to police and to a BBC journalist who investigated him – sparking a series of disclosures from other victims who had previously been too ashamed to speak to police.

Here is a timeline of the case:

Emma Caldwell
The murder of Emma Caldwell went unsolved for almost two decades (family handout/PA)

– October 1990

Rape allegation made against Iain Packer, then aged 19 or 20, by an underage girl. The child’s family are dismissive of the allegations and Packer threatens to report her to police.

– Mid-1990s

Packer is accused of raping a woman repeatedly and hitting her in the face with a Caterpillar work boot. During the same attack he attempted to strangle the woman with a Hoover flex.

– March 1999

A sex worker tells police she was raped by Packer, and took documents from his work van to identify him, but no action is taken. The prosecution in his trial described police attitudes at the time as “dismissive”.

Iain Packer
Iain Packer has been convicted almost two decades after he murderered Emma Caldwell (Police Scotland/PA)

– 2002

Emma Caldwell moves to Glasgow after being introduced to heroin in a bid to cope with the death of her older sister. She eventually turns to sex work to fund her habit.

– August 2004

Packer indecently assaults Miss Caldwell behind a billboard at the Barras, Glasgow, ignoring her instruction to stop because he had “paid”, the trial heard. A witness fears Packer was “stalking” Miss Caldwell.

– March 2005

Packer gets his blue work van, which will be central to the case. The same month he takes a “petrified” teenage sex worker to Limefield Woods and forces her to strip.

Iain Packer's van
Iain Packer’s blue van was crucial in the evidence used to convict him (Police Scotland/PA)

– April 3, 2005

Margaret Caldwell visits Glasgow to spend the day with her daughter, who tells her of plans to go to rehab, but she appears “nervous” and “agitated”. Mrs Caldwell told the trial her daughter’s last words to her were “Bye, mum. Phone you Monday or Tuesday”.

– April 4, 2005

Miss Caldwell is last seen alive near Glasgow Green in the city’s east end. Packer’s mobile phone data showed he frequented the area, a known red-light district, nearly as often as his home.

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

– April 6, 2005

Mrs Caldwell and her husband are unable to contact their daughter to change the day of a planned visit, and in the coming days report her missing and launch a search in Glasgow.

– May 8, 2005

The body of Miss Caldwell is found in Limefield Woods, South Lanarkshire, by a dogwalker. A “garotte” had been placed around her neck and her possessions and clothing had been disposed of.

– June 22, 2005

Packer is interviewed by police and lies, claiming not to know Miss Caldwell. He became “uncomfortable” when Miss Caldwell’s name was mentioned and terminated the interview.

– July 5, 2005

Police interview Packer a second time and obtain a warrant to search his blue van.

– August 2006

Packer is interviewed and tells police he forced a sex act on Miss Caldwell in 2004.

Emma Caldwell
Emma Caldwell riding a horse as a young child (family handout/PA)

– June to July 2006

A woman is abducted by Packer, who refused to let her leave a house for two weeks and held a knife to her chest. Between 2004 and 2006 a “cluster” of attacks on sex workers took place.

– March 2007

Police interview Packer on a voluntary basis, and take him to Limefield Woods. He tells police he lied during previous interviews and had been with Miss Caldwell “10 or 11 times”.

– 2015

Packer is investigated by the Sunday Mail newspaper, which presents him as the “forgotten” suspect in Miss Caldwell’s murder. A new search of Limefield Woods is carried out to find evidence.

– November 2018

Packer instigates an interview with BBC journalist Sam Poling “to clear his name”. He claims he has never visited Limefield Woods and that he told police they “forced” him to visit. He says he has never been violent to women. The interviews spark disclosures from more victims.

Margaret Caldwell
Emma Caldwell had a close relationship with her mother Margaret, who attended Packer’s trial (Andrew Milligan/PA)

– 2019

Packer is interviewed again by the BBC. In total he is interviewed on three occasions. After the final one, he told a witness: “They’re blaming me for Emma.”

– 2021

Analysis of soil samples taken from Limefield Woods is carried out, with a sample from the blue van owned by Packer in 2004. The prosecution in his trial cite this as as “97% match”.

– February 2022

Packer is arrested by Police Scotland on suspicion of the murder of Miss Caldwell, and the same year a review of DNA evidence is carried out.

– December 2022

Additional charges are brought against Packer.

– January 2024

Packer goes on trial at the High Court in Glasgow. Margaret Caldwell gives evidence two days before what would have been her daughter’s 46th birthday.

Packer admits lying in seven police interviews and three BBC interviews, but continues to insist he did not murder Miss Caldwell.

– February 2024

Packer is convicted of murdering Emma Caldwell and attacking multiple other women following a six-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.