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Alberta man given five months for abduction

Cara Loverock
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 15, 2008

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A man who had a romantic relationship with a 15-year-old girl from the NWT was given five months in jail and no probation by a Supreme Court judge on Wednesday.

David Packham pleaded guilty on Tuesday, the day his trial for abduction of a girl under 16 was set to take place. Packham was 32 when he was living in a NWT community with his wife and began a relationship with the girl in early 2007.

Crown prosecutor Shelley Tkatch told the court Packham had made plans with the girl to go south, despite the fact the girl's father had been made aware of the relationship and told Packham to end it.

Packham gave the girl $1,500 to buy a plane ticket to Edmonton where the two met up on March 24. The girl's parents believed their daughter was headed to another community for school. When she did not arrive her parents contacted RCMP.

"RCMP treated this as a missing persons case," said Tkatch. "At no time did (the girl) nor anybody have permission to take (the girl) out of the NWT."

On March 28 Packham's wife, who was not with him at the time, alerted police to his whereabouts. Packham and the girl had driven to Fort McMurray and Winnipeg.

Packham contacted RCMP when he learned they were looking for the girl and told police their exact location. Police took the girl into custody. Packham later went to the police detachment in Winnipeg where she was being held and asked for her to be released back to him.

"They told him to leave," said Tkatch.

During sentencing on Wednesday, Packham's wife spoke in his defence and said he is "a victim of his own mental unravelling."

Tkatch requested a minimum sentence of one year in jail and probation.

"He knew the parents disapproved of this relationship," she said. "The intention appears to be this was a permanent removal from the parents," said Tkatch, adding the two had made plans to live together and find work in Winnipeg.

Defence lawyer Paul Falvo said the girl had not been taken against her will and she "very much wanted to be there."

Packham spoke in his own defence speaking about his criminal background. "I married my wife while I was in jail," he said, adding he had spent nine birthdays, Christmases and New Year's behind bars. "I wrestle with my conscience every day for what I've done," Packham said. He apologized to the family and said he still loves his wife.