A wife killer who has never revealed the location of his victim’s body is to face the UK’s first public parole hearing.
The parole board will determine whether Russell Causley, 79, who was jailed for life for killing Carole Packman in 1985, should be released after his grandson applied for a public hearing to scrutinise the “evil and sadistic” man who had such a serious impact on his own life.
Neil Gillingham, the grandson, said he wanted the hearing to shine a light on the “failure” of legal changes to date to make it harder to release killers who refuse to reveal the whereabouts of their victims’ bodies.
As well as being the first public hearing, it will also be the first case to test new rules that require the parole board by law to take account of a prisoner’s refusal to reveal the whereabouts of a victim’s body when deciding whether to release them.
Mr Gillingham said: “How evil and sadistic does the murderer need to be? How exceptional does the case need to be? My grandfather has no shame. I question whether or not he has a heart, and if he does, whether it’s made out of stone or flesh.
“My whole life has been tainted by my grandfather and I want a public hearing to scrutinise the man who has impacted on me for so long.”
Causley initially evaded justice for the best part of a decade after his wife’s murder by faking his own death as part of an insurance scam.
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 and sentenced to life for the killing, a year after he moved his lover Ms Packham into their home in Bournemouth, Dorset.
He was freed from prison in 2020, after serving more than 23 years for the murder, but was returned to jail in November last year after breaching his licence conditions. Causley will now face the Parole Board for review in October.
Causley opposed an open hearing and indicated he might not give evidence if the application was granted but will now face a public hearing in October.
Open hearing ‘in the public interest’
Announcing the decision, Caroline Corby, the chairman of the parole board, said an open hearing would be in the public interest because of the seriousness of his crimes, the high profile nature of his case and to help the public better understand the work of the board.
“I have decided that there are special features, which set it apart from other cases, which may add to the proper public understanding of the parole system,” she added.
These included the fact that it would be first since the law changed allow hearings to be held in public and to require the parole board to consider the refusal to reveal the whereabouts a victim’s body.
“I have carefully considered Mr Causley’s representations and have concluded that the interests of justice outweigh the points raised on Mr Causley’s behalf. I therefore grant the application for the hearing to be held in public.”
The application is the second to be received by the Parole Board requesting a public hearing after the rule change earlier this year allowed the public and media to observe proceedings.
Charles Bronson, one of the UK’s longest-serving and most notorious prisoners, was the first to request such a hearing.
A date has not been set for his next parole review, although it is thought it could be later this year or early in 2023, and a decision on whether it will take place in public is yet to be made.