Man jailed for murdering his wife in Bournemouth to be released from prison

Russell Causley was handed a life sentence for the murder of his wife Carole Packman who disappeared in 1985. Credit: ITV Meridian

A man who was jailed for life for murdering his wife, but never revealed where he hid her body, is to be freed from prison.

Russell Causley made UK legal history last year when he became the first prisoner to face a public parole hearing.

Causley was handed a life sentence for killing Carole Packman, who disappeared in 1985, a year after he moved his lover into the family home in Bournemouth in Dorset.

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

Russell Causley was freed from prison in 2020 but sent back to jail the following year after breaching his licence conditions. Credit: ITV Meridian

The Parole Board said on Thursday: "After considering the circumstances of his offending and time on licence, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearings, the panel was satisfied that Mr Causley was suitable for release."

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.

His first conviction for murder, in 1996, was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2003, but he was found guilty again at a second trial. He never gave evidence in court and has never disclosed the location of Ms Packman's body.

Last month their daughter Samantha Gillingham, said she is ready and waiting to meet her father after decades of asking to confront him about her mother's disappearance.

She spoke out after the 79-year-old gave a rambling and inconsistent account of the circumstances which led to his wife's death under questioning during the first hearing of its kind not to be held behind closed doors after changes in the law.

Causley admitted he had lied and "changed stories consistently", although still denied being responsible when he spoke publicly about the killing for the first time.

Causley insisted he "loved" his wife (pictured) but also told how he "adored" his mistress Tricia. Credit: ITV Meridian

A panel of three parole judges considered his evidence, testimony from probation officials and more than 650 pages of information including a victim impact statement before making their decision. During the hearing, which took place in Lewes prison, East Sussex, while relatives, members of the public and journalists watched the proceedings on a live video link from the Parole Board's offices in Canary Wharf, London, Causley insisted he "loved" his wife but also told how he "adored" his mistress Tricia.

He was recalled to prison in November 2021 after disappearing from his bail hostel overnight and missing a call from his probation officer.

Causley claimed he had been attacked and robbed while on a day trip to Portsmouth.

Describing Causley as a "calculated killer", Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said he was "carefully" considering whether to appeal against the Parole Board decision to re-release him from prison.

He said: "Russell Causley is a calculated killer who has callously prolonged the suffering of Carole Packman's loved ones by refusing to reveal the whereabouts of her body.

"Public protection is my top priority, which is why we're toughening up the parole system and introducing a new ministerial veto to keep the most dangerous offenders off our streets for longer.

"I am carefully looking at whether to ask the Parole Board to reconsider this decision."

Speaking to ITV News about the decision Causley's daughter said: “I said from the outset they would release them, and they have. And that's that.

"There’s nothing we can do about it. It doesn’t matter how many victim impacts statements I make, how much I ask for restorative justice.

“The system either works against you, or works against you, and in the meantime my mother’s still missing.

“On top of it all, I now don’t know who killed my mother.

"I may as well get a dodgy crystal ball from ‘The Range’ and take a look at that.”