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Nicky says women suffered attacks after the police ‘failed to act’ on warnings that Iain Packer was dangerous

By Kayleigh Harvey & David Cowan
BBC Scotland

Two former sex workers who were picked up by Iain Packer say women needlessly suffered attacks after police failed to act on warnings that he was dangerous.

Iain Packer, 51, was found guilty of killing Emma Caldwell in Limefield Woods, Biggar, in April 2005.

He was also convicted of 11 rapes and multiple sexual assaults against 21 other women over a 26-year period.

Police Scotland has apologised and said victims did not get the justice they deserved from the first investigation.

Packer evaded justice for almost two decades following the botched 2005 police inquiry into Emma’s death.

A re-investigation of the case in 2017 led to multiple women coming forward to speak out against the “sex addict”.

Nicky (not her real name), 41, was one of the women who testified against Packer during the trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

She said: “He’s a dangerous man, he’s a scary man, I’m terrified of him – but I’m not scared to speak out against him anymore.”

She claims Packer’s name had been flagged to police by other sex workers in the years after Emma’s death, but “they didn’t listen”.

She said: “We were never believed. It was as if we didn’t matter, because we put ourselves in these situations and it was our own fault.”

Emma’s death sparked a major police investigation

Nicky raised her own concerns about Packer in 2006 after he was aggressive with her. She noted his name in a “dodgy punters book” held at Base 75, a former welfare centre for sex workers, based in Glasgow.

She said many women, like her, were too afraid to report incidents directly to the police at the time for fear of prosecution.

“It’s something that if the police had listened back then, then a lot of stuff could have been prevented,” she said.

“I might have only been giving evidence about my friend being murdered, I might not have had to give evidence about stuff that happened to me.”

Nicky watched in court as the verdict was read out against her attacker.

She said she had experienced “a mixed bag of feelings”.

Packer was found guilty after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow

“On the one hand I’m happy. This is a day I never thought I’d see, that he’s finally being convicted.

“But then on the other hand I’m still sad. I’m still gutted that it took so many years.

“I am glad Emma’s mum is getting her peace and this is closure for us all.”

She added that all the women targeted by Packer had now got justice.

More than 20 women spoke out in court. A pattern of abusive behaviour and control was a key theme throughout their testimonies.

Caitlin (not her real name), 37, lived at the same hostel as Emma, in Glasgow, in 2005. She was picked up twice by Packer and in the months before Emma’s death, she was also taken to the same area of woodland in Biggar where Emma was killed.

‘They looked down on us’

She said: “It makes me feel sick, knowing I had been there and that’s what has happened to her and that’s where she was found.

“That’s something you’ll never get over.

“Even though I’ve moved on from that and I’m doing well, it’s still something you’re going to remember.”

Emma’s death sparked a major police investigation

Caitlin is angry it took so long for Packer to be brought to justice and feels voices like hers were ignored because they were sex workers.

She said: “They looked down on us. Didn’t believe anything we said. The way they saw it was: ‘We do what we do, so it’s your own fault'”.

She added that “hundreds of lassies had reported him, but they wouldn’t listen”.

Caitlin says Iain Packer took her to the same woods where Emma Caldwell was killed months later

Caitlin began working as a prostitute after becoming addicted to heroin when she was 17.

“When you’re on drugs it’s horrible,” she said.

“You’re not thinking about all the bad stuff and what’s happening to you, and what can happen to you. You’re just thinking about getting the money to get your next fix.”

Caitlin worked on the streets in Glasgow for 10 years and during that time claims she was raped, sexually assaulted and, on one occasion, abducted by a client.

Now in recovery and a mum-of-two, she says she has turned her life around.

Caitlin says she was “scared” to give evidence against Packer, but that it “needed to be done”.

She added: “I’m doing this for Emma’s mum because it has been too long and she really needs justice for her daughter.”

Caitlin views the verdict as some type of closure but thinks it is important that all the women who spoke out are recognised for helping police to catch Packer.

‘Let down’ by police

“If it wasn’t for people like us standing up and letting them actually know what was going on, they would never know,” she added.

Following Wednesday’s verdict, Police Scotland said Emma and many other victims had been “let down” by policing in 2005.

Assistant Chief Constable for Major Crime and Public Protection Bex Smith said: “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.”

“Over seven years, a full review of the original inquiry by Strathclyde Police in 2005 was completed.

“We have reflected and learned from the initial investigation and subsequent reinvestigation.”

ACC Smith also said that other women who may have been attacked, but did not come forward, should make the move.

She said: “If anybody feels that they have been a victim, I absolutely encourage them to come forward and talk to us. We will listen and they will be believed.

“No matter when any sexual offending happened, we will listen and we will investigate. “

You can watch Catching a Killer: The Murder of Emma Caldwell on iPlayer now.

You can listen to the podcast series Who Killed Emma? on BBC Sounds.

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