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Murder accused told police he tried to pick up alleged victim, court hears

A murder accused told police he had tried to pick up the sex worker he is accused of killing, a court has heard.

In an interview weeks after the body of Emma Caldwell was found, Iain Packer said there was one occasion when he had intended to pick her up but she had gone by the time he returned.

He later told police: “I have seen Emma Caldwell three or four times in all. I didn’t know her name at the time, I only learnt it from TV.”

Packer, 50, is on trial accused of murdering Miss Caldwell, 27, in 2005, and faces 46 charges including rape as well as abduction and assault.

Emma Caldwell murder
Emma Caldwell’s body was discovered in woodland in 2005 (Family Handout/PA)

He denies all the charges against him, and has lodged special defences of incrimination, consent, defence of another and self-defence.

Earlier on Thursday, he was taken to Limefield Woods near Roberton, South Lanarkshire, where he is alleged to have strangled Miss Caldwell on April 5 2005, during a site visit in his trial.

When the trial resumed at the High Court in Glasgow, it heard evidence from Packer’s police statement from June 22 2005, when he said it had “maybe been about a year” since he picked up a sex worker from “the drag”, where he said he had seen Miss Caldwell.

He told police: “I have been using prostitutes for about 12 years.

“I don’t really have a preference to hair colour, but I think I prefer blondes. I prefer girls aged early to late 20s.

“More often than not I go to the Barras to pick up a prostitute.

“I have been going to this particular area for about three years but I don’t know the names of any of the girls. I don’t have any of their phone numbers.”

When Miss Caldwell’s name was mentioned, Packer ended the statement, saying he had to return to work, the court heard.

Police got permission to conduct another interview and search his van, and in a second interview he told police there was one occasion when he had intended to pick up Miss Caldwell but she had gone by the time he returned.

In another statement, on July 5 2005, Packer said: “I have seen Emma Caldwell three or four times in all. I didn’t know her name at the time, I only learnt it from TV.

“I don’t have Emma’s phone number and I never sent her a text, sometimes I had girls’ phone numbers. I deleted them all. I don’t have anything to do with prostitutes anymore.

“I last saw Emma about three or four months ago, this was at Cadogan Street, wearing the stuff I said earlier.

“I don’t take girls back to my own house. I have never had any trouble or a fight with a prostitute, I have never attacked one of them or been attacked.

“I have never tried to do anything they didn’t want me to do. I don’t have any other information which might help this inquiry.”

Packer insisted he was either at home or working in Aberdeen or Inverness on April 4 or 5.

In a third statement, on July 19 2005, Packer said: “I don’t know any of the girls at the Barras and the drag and I don’t know any names.

“The last time I phoned a prostitute was about two months ago. I don’t have any other information which might help in this inquiry.”

Earlier, Packer was taken to the woodland site where Miss Caldwell’s body was found on May 8 2005.

He wore a face mask and walked with a stick as he was assisted by two prison guards across boggy ground in a pine forest.

The jury was also taken to the site and stood across a stream which divides the forest, surrounded by police in high-visibility jackets.

They walked around a path of yellow plastic markers to see the area where Miss Caldwell’s body was found.

Judge Lord Beckett attended the visit wearing waterproof trousers and an anorak.

The convoy had earlier left the court, and Packer was taken to the site in an unmarked white Ford van.

The trial continues.