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The Investigator: A British Crime Story

  • Episode: 

    1 of 4

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Thu 14 Jul 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 28 2016 : Sat 09 Jul - Fri 15 Jul
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 5 July 2016
The Investigator: A British Crime Story
“People have said to me, ‘Okay, forget it. Just leave it. It's 30 years now.’ And you just think to yourself, 'If it was your mother, would you leave it?'” - Sam Gillingham, Carole Packman’s daughter
Mark Williams-Thomas returns to ITV for an explosive and ground-breaking new investigative series that shows how real life crime can be far more compelling than fiction.
Williams-Thomas, the award-winning former police detective who unmasked Jimmy Savile as the UK’s most notorious paedophile, re-examines a previously ‘closed’ and chilling murder case, which has baffled detectives for more than 30 years.
The murder of Carole Packman, whose body has never been found, continues to affect the lives of many of those involved and as Williams-Thomas discovers, the shocking tale of murder, fraud, deceit and lies has left family members desperate for answers.
In a UK television first, The Investigator: A British Crime Story, will follow the case over four explosive episodes, combining stylized drama with compelling documentary.
In June 1985 the wife and mother mysteriously disappeared and has never been seen since. Her husband Russell Causley is now serving a life sentence for her murder, yet no body has ever been found. Throughout the case he pleaded his innocence and refused to talk.
During his investigation, Mark sets out to piece together evidence in a bid to find the truth. He says: “Even though this case is 30 years on – I’m still convinced there’s an awful lot more to find out. And I have no doubt there are people out there who hold vital clues. They hold the missing pieces to the puzzle.”
In the first episode, the couple’s daughter Sam explains why she got in touch with the investigator. She says: “I've got a lot of questions that remain unanswered. My father is serving life for her murder. And I need to know where my mother is. I need to know what exactly happened, if I can. What happened to my mother in June, 1985. My father won't talk to me, he won't engage with me.”
Former Dorset police detective Paul Donnell tells Mark about the struggles officers faced trying to investigate the case at the time - including the lack of a body and the fact her disappearance wasn’t reported for several weeks after she went missing. He says: “The investigation was started some time after she disappeared, we had the problem with the age of witnesses, some of them had passed away, others had moved to other parts of the country, and the problem was that Russell controlled her totally so if she got friendly with somebody he would nip that in the bud, he didn’t want that.”
Russell had begun an affair with an employee in his new insurance business - Patricia Causley, who at 26 was much younger than him. She moved in with the couple in Westbourne having sold her own flat and given them the proceeds. According to Patricia, Russell and Carole’s marriage was already breaking up and she felt the arrangement was right for them. Shirley Tizzard, a neighbour who may have been the last person to see Carole alive, says the family set-up seemed unusual: “I remember Sam came one day and said, ‘Oh mummy’s in the spare bedroom.’ And she said, ‘Daddy’s got a girlfriend and she’s sleeping with daddy.’ And off she ran again. And we took that with a pinch of salt, really. We thought that really can’t be right. But it obviously was.”
Believing the best way to uncover the truth is to speak to Russell, Mark asks Sam how to get into her father’s head. She says: “I don’t really know what makes him tick. I don’t know if he cares anymore. Because he has absolutely no time for me at all.”
He writes a letter to Russell, asking him to explain what happened, and speaks to solicitor Anthony John, who met Russell, Patricia and Carole at a dinner party, to build up a picture of their relationship. He says: “At one point Carole was sitting on Russell’s lap but then Patricia moved into her place and there was a very sudden change in the atmosphere. There was something going on with Patricia Causley. I have to say that I wondered if this might be a bunch of people who were engaging in wife swapping for instance. And at that stage I wouldn’t have said Carole was an unwilling party either. But things can go too far can’t they?”
To outsiders it may have seemed that Carole was complicit in this new family set-up. But Mark says he thinks there is another reason why Carole endured Russell’s affair. Sam says: “He used to kick her, he used to quite like using his feet actually. But also at the same time, bruises in places that couldn’t actually be seen by other people. My mum, she was being broken, definitely broken.”
Patricia wasn’t Russell’s first affair - years earlier, a teenage Sam spotted her father with another woman. But she kept her silence until six months before Carole disappeared, when she told her mother. Russell flew into a rage, says Sam, putting her over his knee and spanking her with a slipper. Sam says: “I just thought, ‘I ain’t staying here,’ I just grabbed my coat and I ran. And I ran all the way to Bournemouth. And... I went to a children's home then for a while. And I made a statement against my father to say that this is what he'd done to me.”
But her father called her and persuaded her to change her statement and she later returned home to find her mother frustrated at the state of affairs there. The day before Carole disappeared she visited solicitor Anthony John, seeking to divorce Russell. He says: “I can remember the meeting quite clearly – quite determined in the path she wanted to take, she felt that she didn’t love Russell any longer and she was quite clear that she wanted a divorce and she wanted to move on with her life.”
The day she disappeared, Sam had been sightseeing in London. She describes the moment she discovered her mother had gone. She says: “I remember going back home with my father. There’s a note, with my mother’s wedding ring on there. It says that I’ve had enough and I’m leaving and I’m not coming back. That’s it, that’s all it says.”
Sam thought her mum had left through choice, so didn’t report the disappearance to the police. Meanwhile, Russell was telling friends and colleagues she had run off with another man. A local journalist tells Mark she spoke to Carole’s mother, who told her Russell had cut off contact between her and her parents. Mark wonders whether one reason for Carole’s disappearance was her increasing isolation from family and friends.
There is news of a key development in Mark's investigation as he receives a letter of reply from Russell. It says: “I do not have a solicitor at this time, but you may be able to facilitate that much quicker. If you can get someone local to come in and talk to me, I may well be willing to engage with you.”
Peter Walker, at the time an Inspector with Dorset Police, met Russell after he had reported Carole’s disappearance two months after she went missing. Subsequently, something unusual happened. He tells Mark: “I was told that Carole Packman had come into the police station and that she had said she was safe and well and that was it. And the Inspector who dealt with that was Colin Vincent, who unfortunately is now dead. As I subsequently discovered, after five years all the papers are destroyed.”
While Mark tries to find out whether the woman was Carole, he discovers that a child of a similar age to Sam was with her, so he asks her if it was. She says: “Absolutely not. I never ever saw my mother again after the time that she disappeared from Westbourne, so no I have never been into a police station with my mother. No that was not me.”
What is your role in this new series?
“This time, I’m combining three roles - investigator, reporter and presenter. That means I’m able to explain and unpick threads of evidence as they unfold for viewers, interview protagonists face-to-face, and make the narrative of the story clear.
“Hopefully that makes for an engaging programme which people are drawn into following.”
Why pick this case to investigate?
“My profile since the Jimmy Savile programme has meant I am approached by people from all over the world to help investigate cases.
“Some have been unsolved, some have resulted in conviction, and they involve a variety of things - missing people, sexual offences, possible miscarriages of justice, even murders.
“Yet the reason for every contact is the same - those people want to find out the truth. 
“In this case, I was contacted by Sam Gillingham to help find the answers to the many questions she still had about her mum’s disappearance over 30 years ago.
“Her dad was in jail for her murder, but he never gave evidence and remained silent and she had no idea where her mum was - she had never known the truth. That’s what first got my interest. This crime has taken over her life, become an obsession, almost - and yet the lack of a body, along with other elements of the story which have never been pieced together, has meant some questions remain unanswered. And that’s what I’m trying to do in this series.”
How did you approach the investigation?
“I approach every investigation in the same way - firstly I need to quickly establish that the enquiry is genuine and if my experience and skills can add anything to what has not already been done.
“Sometimes people are just looking for significant public attention and profile for their case, which could in itself be enough - particularly in cases where people are missing.
“One thing I always say to everyone whose case I take on is that they have to be prepared for whatever I dig up, good or bad. In this case, there are twists and turns throughout - I speak to everyone I possibly can, and go back into the trace evidence. That is no easy task when investigating a 30-year-old murder.”
What was the most eye-opening aspect of the case that you uncovered?
“I have investigated many murders and they all have some strange aspects to them when you start digging.
“But I have never investigated a case that has so many twists and turns like this one. At times it’s hard to believe it’s a real case and not something out of an Agatha Christie novel.
“Also sometimes what I set out to prove and establish at the beginning sometimes gets overtaken by other factors outside the case, and this was certainly the case here. I think that as the evidence unfolds, viewers will find it as shocking and compelling as I did.”