I saw wife killer burn an object in woods weeks after she was last seen alive

A new witness has claimed he saw killer Russell Causley burning an object in thick woodland weeks after his wife was last seen alive.

Jay Fellows, 49, was biking through the New Forest in 1985 as a teenager when he spotted a firepit containing a rug wrapped around a mystery item.

He is “100 per cent sure” the ginger-haired man he saw was Causley after seeing pictures of him in a documentary about Carole Packman’s murder.

Jay led detectives to the scene and Carole’s daughter Sam Gillingham, 51, is calling for police to excavate but police say the evidence is not strong enough.

Yesterday it was announced Causley, 77, will be freed within days.

Jay, who met Sam and her son Neil, 30, at the site this week, told how the hairs on his neck “stood up” when he first saw a picture of the killer.

He said: “I recognised his ginger hair and his sideburns – it was definitely him.

“I am as certain as I can be of anything in my life that Causley was at that spot.

“I used to think what that guy was doing wasn’t normal. I even remember the sunlight flickering through the trees.

“Russell knows there are two people in the world who know where she is – and that is him and me.”

Sam was aged 16 when Carole, 40, disappeared from the family home in Bournemouth, Dorset.

Causley has twice been convicted of murder – once following a retrial – and was jailed for life for a minimum of 16 years.

But last month Parole Board judges approved him for release after ruling he no longer posed a risk to the public.

An intervention by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland was turned down yesterday, meaning Causley will walk out of HMP Littlehey, Cambs.

Sam and Neil, of Northampton, are furious at the “contemptible” decision.

Jay’s sighting fits with Causley’s confession that Carole was buried at an “idyllic” spot in the New Forest, Sam said.

Speaking from the scene near ­Ringwood, Hants, Sam said: “It all fits with the timings and locations. I remember coming to Ringwood as a family to walk the dogs and climb trees. Police should at least rule it out and set my mind at rest.”

Jay stayed with his aunt at her ­Ringwood home throughout the summer holidays in 1985.

He says he was cycling along a path at around 9pm when he saw Causley.

Jay said: “There was a hole, probably four or five feet. There was fire coming out of it. At both ends, it looked like a rug wrapped around something.”

Jay remembered asking: “What are you doing there, mister?” The man gave him a stern look before replying: “My dog died, I’m burning my dog.”

Jay added: “He didn’t look me in the eye. I remember getting away from him as fast as I could.” Then in 2017, Jay, a campsite manager on Jersey, recognised Causley while watching ITV’s The Investigator.

He flew to the mainland and cycled with police from his aunt’s home to where he made the sighting. He added: “I had not been back in 30 years – I had goosebumps. Officers told me I said things that only the killer knew.”

Police said the date – July or August – was inconsistent with Carole’s ­disappearance on June 15. But Sam remembers Causley and lover Patricia taking her to Italy for around four weeks after her mum went missing.

In 1988 an estate was built nearby, and houses stand 50ft away. But this week Jay used landmarks to identify a 30ft square patch. Neil said: “Now we can pinpoint this location I hope Dorset Police will reinvestigate.”
Sam said: “More than anything I want to properly say goodbye.”

Causley was in jail for faking his death in a sailing accident when he told a cellmate about the “perfect” murder of his “b**** wife”. Retired detective Tony Nott, who helped convict him in 1996, said two ­confessions mentioned the body being burned. He said: “The police are duty bound to follow that information up.”

A Dorset Police spokeswoman said: “The area identified did not resemble the area that existed at the time.”

The Parole Board said a senior judge found the original decision to release Causley was a “rational” one.