The family of Emma Caldwell have praised the former Helensburgh Advertiser journalist who helped expose the killer.

Emma, who spent her early years living with her family in Cardross before moving to Erskine, Renfrewshire, was murdered by Iain Packer in April 2005.

Packer dumped Emma’s body in Limefield Woods, South Lanarkshire, disposed of her belongings, and indecently assaulted her.

He was jailed on Wednesday for 36 years after being convicted at the High Court in Glasgow of 33 charges against 22 women.

Police apologised for their failings in the case that let Packer evade justice for 19 years.

It was when BBC investigative reporter Sam Poling interviewed Packer that the net finally started to close in.

In a statement after sentencing read by mum Margaret Caldwell's solicitor, Aamer Anwer, the family said: "A toxic culture of misogyny and corruption meant the police failed so many women and girls who came forward to speak up against Packer. 

"Instead of receiving justice and compassion, they were humiliated, dismissed and in some instances arrested, whilst the police gifted freedom to an evil predator to rape and rape again.

READ MORE: Reporter Sam specialises in TV scoops

"We now know Packer carried out rapes, sexual offences and assaults some 19 times after Emma’s murder in 2005.

"Margaret believes that officers sabotaged an investigation into Packer for a decade and have blood on their hands. For far too long they have remained in the shadows, but must now answer for their betrayal.

"It should be noted that without the work of journalists such as Jim Wilson and Brendan McGinty of the Sunday Mail in 2015, this campaign would never have built the momentum required.

"Credit is also due to the BBC’s Sam Polling for her work that gave us more damning evidence against Packer."

The family have called for a public inquiry into what went wrong for so long in the case.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Emma Caldwell

Sam interviewed Packer twice, the first time in November 2018. He had approached her after she presented an investigation on Police Scotland, and said he wanted to "clear his name".

Instead Ms Poling was called as a witness at his murder trial and clips of her 2019 BBC documentary were shown to the jury.

The journalist said in an interview about confronting Packer and the trial: "I thought I'd feel happy, and I didn't. I just felt 'how many years has it taken to come to this?'.

"I've never been more nervous of anything in my entire life. The weight of the responsibility that I felt, of all the victims, just was overwhelming, and I didn't want to let them down, I didn't want to let myself down.

"And knowing that the interviews that we had done were key - they were crucial.

"And he has to sit there and watch, on screens all around the courtroom, the interviews that I'd done with him, the lies that he'd told me.

"And it was those lies that got him caught."

Helensburgh Advertiser:

She added: "It's been 19 years since Emma Caldwell was murdered. It's taken 19 years to convict the man who killed her, and I don't know how to feel about that.

"Yes, these women got justice, but I just feel such an overwhelming sense of sadness that it has taken this long, and that all these women were not believed until now."

Sam went to Hermitage Primary and then Hermitage Academy, later getting her second job in journalism at the Advertiser in 1995.

She later went to work at a press agency and finally the national press.

She reported from Dunblane after the massacre, from Paris after the death of Princess Diana, and followed the Tartan Army around France during the 1998 World Cup.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Emma Caldwell's mum, Margaret, outside courtEmma Caldwell's mum, Margaret, outside court (Image: PA)

She later joined the BBC, and since 2001 has created a series of hard-hitting investigative programmes.

The following year she made the film ‘The Untouchable’ about a senior police officer who had raped and stalked women who he had met through his work. He was later jailed for 12 years for the attacks.

She has won multiple Baftas for her work and continued to expose corruption and criminality, bringing her to the attention of Packer and ultimately helping get justice for his victims.