MURDER accused Nat Fraser put on a show of false emotion when asked if his missing wife might have killed herself, it was alleged.
"A tear came to his eye," retired Detective Inspector William Robertson (58), told the High Court in Edinburgh.
"I remember him saying ‘I don’t want to think about that.’"
But Mr Robertson continued: "He said it but I didn’t get the feeling he meant it.
"There was no distress. There was no anxiety or sign of worry coming from him."
Mr Robertson also told the trial that Fraser’s "numbness" and the lack of information he gave to help the police search were unique in his career, which spanned more than 30 years.
Fruit and vegetable wholesaler Fraser (53), denies murdering mum-of-two Arlene 14 years ago, claiming he has an alibi and a likely killer is local farmer Hector Dick.
The trial has heard that the 11 year marriage was crumbling and the Frasers were living apart when Arlene (33), vanished from her home in Smith Street, New Elgin on April 28, 1998.
At 3am the following morning Mr Robertson, then a detective sergeant, went to the house in Lhanbryde where Fraser was staying.
Fraser, dishevelled and grubby, answered the door, putting his finger to his lips to signal that Mr Robertson and his police colleague should not wake the household.
Mr Robertson said Fraser was "very, very nervous."
The retired detective said: "He couldn’t speak to us. His mouth was very dry and it was as if his tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth.
"He was trying to get the words out but he couldn’t.
"After a few more minutes he became a bit more calm and was able to speak."
Mr Robertson described the encounter as "surreal."
He said Fraser showed concern for his wife "to a point" and told the officers about her medical condition, Crohn’s disease, which meant she needed regular medication.
He was "happy enough" that his son and daughter were staying with neighbours. "He wasn’t overly concerned about the kids," said Mr Robertson.
Then he asked him out-right if there was a chance Arlene had committed suicide.
Mr Robertson, who went to the same Elgin school as Fraser, told the trial that in most missing person inquiries relatives were desperate to help police, suggesting lines of inquiry and anxious for news.
He said he had dealt with missing person searches almost daily but the Arlene Fraser search was "unique".
Mr Robertson said: "I had never encountered such inaction, numbness, before in my police career."
The trial continues....