Sources say the expert, Paul Scheepers, will testify to counter the State’s cellphone evidence, but Packham’s lawyers declined to confirm. “I’m not prepared to disclose who we are calling or not calling,” said defence advocate Craig Webster. “You will have to wait and see. Does it matter at this stage? What’s the interest in it?”
Billed on LinkedIn as a “cellphone forensics analyst” who tracks, traces and analyses cellphones, Scheepers was arrested in May 2015.
Out of jail on R20000 bail, he has since appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on numerous occasions where he is also accused of contravening the Private Security Industry Regulation Act, the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
The charges relate to the shadow private investigation business, Eagle Eye Solutions Technologies, that Scheepers allegedly ran while serving as a unit commander with Provincial Crime Intelligence in the Western Cape.
Scheepers was in court alongside Packham attorney Ben Mathewson last month for the testimony of the State’s cellphone analyst Warrant Officer Reece Harvey. Harvey provided the court with a timeline of Packham’s cellphone activity before and after Gill Packham’s murder.
The timelines and why his phones were switched off for long periods of time will be the hurdles that Packham will face when he takes the stand next week to explain his exact whereabouts on February 22 last year when Gill was murdered.
To date the court has not heard Packham’s full version of events, including his whereabouts when a witness placed him in Gill’s car after her disappearance at a time when his cellphone was picked up in that location.
Scheepers listened attentively while Webster cast doubt on Harvey’s analysis using a coloured diagram showing cellphone tower coverage and triangulation in the crime scene areas.
Webster represented Scheepers in the Commercial Crimes Court. He is also due to represent him in a May 21 High Court application seeking to permanently stay Scheeper’s criminal prosecution. There have been indications that the application may be withdrawn and that his trial will proceed. The basis for the application is that Scheepers is bound by a State secrecy declaration he signed which prohibits him from accessing and disclosing crime intelligence information required for a fair trial.
The High Court application has postponed Scheepers’s criminal case until June 21. It’s one of over a dozen postponements since his first April 2016 appearance which the State views as orchestrated attempts by Scheepers to delay the commencement of his trial.
The State alleges that Scheepers obtained cellphone records for his PI agency by adding them to subpoenas obtained for unrelated crime intelligence cases. In order to obtain a subpoena for a police investigation, an investigating officer has to submit a sworn affidavit to a magistrate giving details of his investigation including why cellphone records are required.
Other charges relate to the State allegation that in September 2010 Scheepers illegally imported an IMSI Grabber/Locator into South Africa, an electronic device capable of intercepting cellphone conversations, text messages and data and determining a user’s location without their knowledge.