Now Playing

Now Playing IconNow Playing:

Evolve Radio

Artist Name

Album Art

Police missed chances to catch serial rapist before he murdered sex worker

Chances were repeatedly missed to stop one of the UK’s most prolific rapists before he murdered a Glasgow sex worker and dumped her remains in remote woods, Sky News can reveal.

Iain Packer, 51, was found guilty of murdering Glasgow sex worker Emma Caldwell in 2005 and raping multiple other vulnerable women in a campaign of sexual depravity dating back to 1999.

The trial at the High Court in Glasgow, which lasted more than a month, heard how Packer was a habitual user of drug-addicted sex workers and lured his victims to remote woods 40 miles away from the city’s red-light district.

He had a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ temper and humiliated women by aggressively demanding that they remove their clothes against their will as part of what he saw as consent-free business transactions.

The self-confessed liar would throttle his victims when they did not comply with his sexual demands, the jury was told.

Iain Packer. Pic: BBC
Image: Pic: BBC
Pic: Police Scotland / Family handout
Image: Pic: Police Scotland / Family handout

His criminal behaviour became murderous in April 2005 when Emma Caldwell vanished from the streets of Glasgow. Her naked remains were later discovered in a ditch in Limefield Woods in South Lanarkshire.

Packer was interviewed a number of times by detectives as part of the investigation but was not arrested or charged until 2022, despite admitting he had driven Emma to the remote spot.

Soil experts later revealed that samples taken from the scene “corresponded” with those in Packer’s van.

Limefield Woods, where Emma Caldwell was murdered in 2005. Pic: PA
Image: Limefield Woods, where Emma Caldwell was murdered in 2005. Pic: PA

In light of Packer’s conviction, it can now be revealed for the first time that concerns about his dangerous sexual behaviour were raised with police years before Ms Caldwell vanished.

Sky News has heard testimony from several former sex workers who Packer paid for sex in the early 2000s.

The women, who gave evidence during the High Court trial, agreed to be interviewed if their identities were protected.

Pic: Police Scotland / Family handout
Image: Pic: Police Scotland / Family handout

‘Tried to force me to my knees’

We have learned one female was even arrested for prostitution and placed in police cells after reporting an alleged serious sex attack by Packer in Glasgow’s east end.

One survivor told Sky News: “He tried to force to me my knees. I was terrified. I started making my way back to the city centre where I met two police officers that I knew.

“They told me I wasn’t supposed to be in the city centre. I told them about the attack, and I got jailed for a section 46 [offence] which is prostitution.

“Nothing ever came of it. They never took a statement. They never checked CCTV. They were not interested.”

Another former sex worker described being taken to Limefield Woods by the convicted rapist and her fear that if she went off the main road she would have been killed.

She said: “He is a very violent, aggressive, and dangerous man. He did not like the word ‘no’. He wanted to be in control.

“From 2003 the police were being warned about him. If the police had just listened to us girls who came forward, then a lot of the other sexual crimes wouldn’t have happened, and Emma could still be alive. They have blood on their hands.

“The police were corrupt back then. They looked down on us. They didn’t care. They thought we were putting ourselves in that situation and whatever happened to us was our own fault.”

Family handout photo of Emma Caldwell
Image: Pic: PA

Strathclyde Police no longer exists, and was amalgamated into Police Scotland in 2013.

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.

“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.”

Iain Packer will be sentenced at a later date.

Sky News Source