Parole board chief apologises to John Worboys' victims
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The daughter of convicted killer Russell Causley is “desperate” to speak to her father after he gave a public account of his crime for the first time at a historic parole hearing. Causley killed his wife Carole Packman in 1985 after moving his mistress into their family home in Bournemouth. He has never revealed where he hid her body.
The 79-year-old was subject to the first ever parole hearing to be held in public today (December 12). He gave a rambling account of the circumstances of the killing.
Speaking after the hearing, his daughter with Ms Packman, Samantha Gillingham, said: “I’ve been asking for years to speak to my father.
“It was me who asked for restorative justice but I didn’t hear anything more from March this year. I’m desperate to speak to my father.”
Causley did not give evidence at either of his jury trials over the murder. Today was the first time he has spoken in publicabout the crime.
Ms Gillingham said: “For the first time we actually heard the man speak.”
She said her father has now indicated he would be prepared to meet her, which is something she still wants.
The pensioner, who admitted in the hearing that he is a liar, has changed his account several times of what happened on the day of Ms Packman’s death and how he disposed of her body.
Ms Gillingham said she was surprised the panel members put challenging questions to her father about his changing claims.
She said: “I actually liked the fact he was given such a grilling at this parole hearing.
“You don’t think that’s going to happen at this stage. You think that’s sort of dealt with at the trial and, actually, I was quite surprised that that did happen today.”
Ms Gillingham, from Northamptonshire, said the accounts given by Causley were “difficult” to hear.
She added: “It’s my parents. It’s my family. It’s hard work. It could be so much easier if only people had the balls to tell the truth. At least I can say I can hold my head up high and I’ve told the truth throughout.”
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Ms Gillingham described the parole process, before hearings could be viewed by the public, as “horrible” and that the opportunity for victims to take part in the system was “limited”.
Changes were made to improve transparency around Parole Board decisions after public outcry over the direction to release taxi driver rapist John Worboys.
The decision was overturned by the High Court in 2018 following a legal challenge brought by two of his victims.
Ms Gillingham said holding the hearing in public had been “invaluable” despite Causley not telling the truth.
She said: “I’m still confused. I still don’t know what is the truth. I still don’t know what to believe.”
Ms Gillingham added: “It was really invaluable for me. There’s been nothing worse than going through the parole process without being actually able to know what’s being said behind closed doors.
“It’s been very difficult with no information. For the first time today, I’ve actually had an understanding of what does go on.”
Causley admitted he had lied and “changed stories consistently” when he faced parole judges on Monday but denied murdering Ms Packman.
He was handed a life sentence for killing Ms Packman, who disappeared in 1985 – a year after he moved his lover into their home in Bournemouth, Dorset.
Causley was freed from prison in 2020 after serving more than 23 years for his wife’s murder, but he was sent back to jail in November last year after breaching his licence conditions.
During the hearing – taking place in Lewes prison in East Sussex while relatives, members of the public and journalists watch the proceedings on a live video link from the Parole Board’s offices in Canary Wharf, London – Causley repeated claims he was not responsible for the murder, despite being convicted of the killing in two separate jury trials.
He also gave a rambling account of the circumstances, changing his story multiple times throughout and admitting: “I lied. I’ve lied consistently. I’ve changed stories consistently.”
He insisted he “loved” his wife but also told how he “adored” his mistress Tricia.
The parole panel chairman told the hearing there were reports Causley had confessed to fellow prisoners that he had gassed Ms Packman and put a bag over her head.
But Causley said: “None of those conversations took place, ever.”
Another member of the panel asked if failing to tell the truth about the killing is “the coward’s way out, not to now finally at the age of 79 admit what you did”.
“I don’t think I’m a wicked person … I hate it when you say I’m a cold-blooded killer,” Causley said.
Earlier, the hearing was told how Causley had been described by his sentencing judge as a “totally ruthless and calculated” killer who “bullied and dominated” his wife for years.
Causley also agreed it was a “fair assessment”, when it was put to him that a previous parole panel found him to be a “proven habitual liar”.
Only Causley’s voice could be heard during the hearing after a request for him not to appear on camera was granted. Probation officials giving witness evidence were also kept off screen and were not identified by name.
The panel of three parole judges are also considering more than 650 pages of information, including a victim impact statement. The parole panel’s chairman told Causley: “Your version of events has varied frequently over time. Your wife’s body has never been found. The precise circumstances of the murder are not clear.”
After being freed from jail, he said he spent his time reading, doing crosswords, walking and shopping. Causley also said he had made a series of suicide attempts over the last two years.
He was given an official reprimand for spending the night away from his bail hostel in August 2021 and recalled to prison in November that year after failing to answer a call from his probation officer. He was logged as missing, having disappeared from his accommodation overnight without his phone or wallet.
Causley told the hearing he had gone to Portsmouth, where he went to college, for the day and claimed he ended up sleeping on the beach overnight after being attacked and robbed by three men.
The next day he went into a nearby shop and asked a member of staff to get him a taxi back to the hostel. But when questioned about the incident, he said the details were “all a bit blurry”.
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