Historic first public parole hearing for wife killer Russell Causley delayed over ‘personal safety’ risks

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Callous Russell Causley murdered his wife Carole Packman in 1985, but has never told their daughter Sam Gillingham the location of her body.

The first public parole hearing in British history has been delayed after evidence of a campaign against murderer Russell Causley’s personal safety, the Parole Board has said.

Callous Causley, now 79, was handed a life sentence for killing his wife Carole Packman, who disappeared in 1985 – a year after he moved his lover into their home in Bournemouth, Dorset.

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Their daughter Sam Gillingham, who was 16 when her mother went missing, has campaigned for years to keep her father behind bars. He has never revealed the location of Carole’s body.

Causley was freed from prison in 2020, after serving more than 23 years for the murder, but was sent back to jail in November last year after breaching his licence conditions.

His latest hearing, due on Thursday, was set to be the first public parole hearing in British history, after a lengthy campaign by Sam, 53, and her son Neil Gillingham. However just two days before the historic event, the Parole Board said the case was adjourned.

Left to right: Carole Packman, Russell Causley, her husband who murdered her and has never told their daughter, right, Sam Gillingham, what he did with the body. Credit: PALeft to right: Carole Packman, Russell Causley, her husband who murdered her and has never told their daughter, right, Sam Gillingham, what he did with the body. Credit: PA
Left to right: Carole Packman, Russell Causley, her husband who murdered her and has never told their daughter, right, Sam Gillingham, what he did with the body. Credit: PA | PA

The board told NationalWorld that it had received “compelling evidence that a long campaign has been undertaken” against Causley’s “personal safety”.

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A spokesperson said: “The parole hearing in the case of Russell Causley, which was scheduled for Thursday 6 October, has had to be adjourned.

“The panel has very recently received compelling evidence that a long campaign has been undertaken not only to undermine Mr Causley’s risk management plan but also his personal safety. In the circumstances the Panel has had to adjourn the public hearing so as to ensure it can be properly managed consistent with a fair hearing for all parties and the victims.

“The Parole Board had ruled that this hearing would be held in public and would be the first case to allow media and public to witness a parole review. This ruling still stands and, once a new date for the hearing in confirmed, those who registered to attend will be contacted with the details.”

Neil Gillingham and Sam Gillingham. Credit: PANeil Gillingham and Sam Gillingham. Credit: PA
Neil Gillingham and Sam Gillingham. Credit: PA | PA

Daughter Sam said the adjournment left her “speechless”. She had previously said that the public parole hearing would be “momentous”.

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“I didn’t think they would grant us it, but they did. If there was ever a person that I thought deserved proper scrutiny with regards to their killer being released, it’s my mother,” she told NationalWorld.

“If there was ever a person who deserved this it’s my mother. Boy have we had to battle.”

The hearing was due to take place at the Parole Board’s London offices, with Causley appearing on a live video feed from prison.

Russell Causley who will become the first prisoner to have a public parole board hearing. Credit: PARussell Causley who will become the first prisoner to have a public parole board hearing. Credit: PA
Russell Causley who will become the first prisoner to have a public parole board hearing. Credit: PA | PA

As well as this, Sam wants to take part in restorative justice - which would involve speaking to her killer dad.

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She said: “I want to say to him: ‘What the f*** is wrong with you? What is it that you’re getting out of this? Why can’t you do the right thing? How long are you going to do this for?”

Sam said she wanted to ask Causley why he used to smother food in her face as a child and lock her in her room “for lying”, when he now refuses to tell her the truth about Carole. “That’s what I’d like to talk to him about,” Sam told NationalWorld.

Carole Packman, 40, who disappeared in 1985, a year after her husband Russell Causley moved his lover into their home in Bournemouth, Dorset. Causley, who was handed a life sentence for killing Carole, will become the first prisoner to have a public parole board hearing. Credit: PACarole Packman, 40, who disappeared in 1985, a year after her husband Russell Causley moved his lover into their home in Bournemouth, Dorset. Causley, who was handed a life sentence for killing Carole, will become the first prisoner to have a public parole board hearing. Credit: PA
Carole Packman, 40, who disappeared in 1985, a year after her husband Russell Causley moved his lover into their home in Bournemouth, Dorset. Causley, who was handed a life sentence for killing Carole, will become the first prisoner to have a public parole board hearing. Credit: PA | PA

Causley initially evaded justice for the best part of a decade after the murder by faking his own death as part of an insurance scam. However when he was jailed for that, he told a cellmate about the “perfect” murder of his “b**** wife”.

He was first convicted of murder in 1996 but this was quashed by the Court of Appeal in June 2003, and he then faced a second trial for murder and was again found guilty.

After numerous parole hearings in which he failed to reveal the location of Carole’s body, he was released in 2020, however was recalled after breaching his conditions.

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