'I can finally breathe again now that Emma's murderer has been convicted'

Margaret Caldwell says she knew Emma was dead from the moment she went missing almost 20 years ago.

Margaret Caldwell took the deepest breath of her life almost 20 years ago.

It was the day that police told her they had found Emma’s body in a remote area of South Lanarkshire woodland.

She says that breath had never left her body – until this Wednesday following the conviction of Iain Packer for her daughter’s murder.

During the trial, Margaret said the Emma had a “very happy childhood” with the family in Cardross, Argyll and Bute.

But that all changed when she turned to heroin to cope with losing her older sister, Karen, in 1998.

Emma Caldwell out for dinner with her sister, Karen (far left).Aamer Anwar & Company

Margaret told the court that she and her husband William were “naive” and did not understand the finances involved in drug addiction.

Speaking to STV News, Margaret said: “We knew she was a heroin addict, which was a terrible thing and we worried about all the time but we had absolutely no knowledge that she worked on the streets of Glasgow to fuel her habit.

“We didn’t know how much it cost, I have heard later it cost hundreds of pounds – maybe even per day in some cases.”

Emma was 20 when her sister died. She later disclosed that she was in a relationship with a man and had started using drugs, before moving in with him in the Govan area of Glasgow in 2002.

When that relationship broke down, Emma ended up in a hostel in Govanhill.

“It was a terrible place to live – Inglefield Street – I wish I had taken her home,” said Margaret. “At one point, I met her one day, she asked me to come and she got in the car, she was crying and she said ‘mum, I need to come home’.

“We were changing her room at that point, there was no bed there or anything and I said ‘could you wait to go home and I’ll get dad to phone you up’ and when he phoned up she said ‘no, she was fine, there was no point in coming home’.

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“My husband said to me we should have swept her up there and then and told her to come (home). I’ve always felt real guilt about that. When I think about Limefield Woods, I replay that over and over and imagine what agony she went through.

“I know it’s not good for me but I can’t stop it. It was terrible, I said to my husband ‘I can’t lose another child’. I cried and cried and sobbed.

“I feel sad for my husband – he was broken-hearted about Emma and then he passed away and the last thing he said to me was ‘go on, you have to go on, don’t let this go’. To be quite honest, I didn’t believe anything he said.

“He wanted to move the blame to everyone else, so no I didn’t believe him. I had no idea, we just thought she wanted to stay at the hospital until she could get into rehabilitation in some way.”

Emma Caldwell.Aamer Anwar & Company

Emma’s naked body was found by a dog walker in Limefield woods near Biggar in South Lanarkshire five weeks after she was last seen on April 5, 2005.

But Margaret says she knew something was wrong straight away, from the moment that Emma went missing.

“Yeah, right away,” she said. “My husband never gave up hope of finding her but I knew right away that Emma was gone – there was something inside me that knew she wouldn’t go a day without phoning me.

“She phoned every day, she wanted to know what we were having for dinner, how the family were. She still kept a certain amount of pride, even though she was in those circumstances and we just lived for her coming home.

“She still had hopes and dreams, she talked about maybe going to work on a ranch in America or Australia with horses.”

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“My husband used to call us the ducklings because we liked wet days, and she came home from the stables and I could see her crossing the square towards the house, from the kitchen, and she was soaked through and she was smiling and waving, and she came in and she had a bunch of wild flowers, which she very proudly put in a vase and stuck on the kitchen windowsill, and she went ‘these are for you, mum. I love you mum’.

“She was such a nice girl.”

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