NAT Fraser was wrongly accused of involvement in his estranged wife’s murder because his so-called friend was desperate to get out of jail, it was claimed.
However, Hector Dick didn’t tell detectives the whole story, because he hadn’t finished making it up, said defence QC John Scott.
Arlene Fraser vanished from her Elgin home in April 1998. A month later the search for her was declared a murder hunt by Grampian Police.
As inquiries continued police became convinced that a beige Ford Fiesta, bought for £450 from a local wheeler-dealer might hold vital clues about what happened to Arlene.
Mr Dick told the trial that he burned the Fiesta at his farm at Mosstowie, near Elgin, before crushing the wreck and taking it to a local scrap merchant.
But he refused to come clean to police and was locked up to await trial for lying about the car in October 1999.
The jury were shown a letter written to prosecutors on October 6, 1999 after Mr Dick was shocked that his bid for bail had been refused.
The letter from solicitor George Mather said Mr Dick would co-operate with police in return for bail and the charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice would be dropped.
In return, Mr Dick would tell what he knew about the car and about comments made by "a certain person."
Mr Dick agreed that the "certain person" was Nat Fraser - one time friend and best man at his wedding.
He was going to tell what Fraser had said when Mr Dick confronted him about the police declaring that they believed Arlene had been murdered.
Mr Scott questioned why there was no offer to tell prosecutors about what Fraser was supposed to have said before Arlene’s disappearance.
"If what you have been telling us is the truth, for a long time, for 18 months, you had been harbouring secrets about things Nat Fraser said to you."
Fraser is supposed to have commented on the thousands of people who go missing without trace and made references to a hit-man.
Mr Dick had claimed he was "sufficiently alarmed" to try to speak to a local bobby, David Alexander, but didn’t.
"I was wanting to speak to Davie but I never met him, never bumped into him," claimed Mr Dick.
"You are not offering in the letter to tell the fiscal about the damning remarks made by Nat before his wife disappeared?" said Mr Scott.
Mr Dick said it was the first time he had seen Mr Mather’s latter and had not known exectly what the solicitor had written to the authorities.
The information had been the subject of "a guarded conversation" after Mr Mathers hung his jacket over a security camera. "I was in his hands," he added, agreeing that he wanted to get out of prison.
"You decided the best way to get you out was to get him in - stick Nat Fraser in," said Mr Scott. "No," Mr Dick told him.
He also denied Mr Scott’s suggestion: "Because you were still in the process of making up your story, you had made up the lie about the hit-man conversation on the Sunday."
Mr Scott said for 18 months, Mr Dick had denied everything, but had ended up being the only one to face any charges.
"All your attempts to weasel out of it had failed and you were heading for Porterfield Prison and as soon as you were there you started scheming to make up things you were going to say about Nat Fraser.
"If you were telling the jury the truth, there was not a single thing to stop you telling the whole story" said Mr Scott, referring to the time of the letter.
Mr Dick had omitted "a crucial conversation", he added.
Mr Dick told the QC "Apparently yes" but said he had probably not told Mr Mathers everything because they had not had the opportunity for a proper discussion.
"Now, having been locked up, being the only person to face charges, you were taking the only option open to you - making things up about Nat Fraser," Mr Scott pursued.
Mr Dick countered: "No, I wasn’t making things up. I remember fine his conversation."
The trial heard that Mr Dick was bailed soon after the letter but in January 2001 he was jailed for 12 months at Dingwall Sheriff Court after halting a trial by admitting attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Nat Fraser denies murdering his wife Arlene (33) and in papers lodged with the court, has suggested Hector Dick could have been the killer.
The trial continues...