THE ESTRANGED husband of Arlene Fraser shocked her mum with jokes and a lack of concern about his missing wife, a murder trial heard.
Arlene Fraser's mum, Isabelle Thompson told the High Court in Edinburgh about the events after her daughter vanished 14 years ago - and the later discovery of Arlene’s rings in her Elgin home.
Giving evidence for a second day at the High Court in Edinburgh, Mrs Thompson (66) said fruit and vegetable wholesaler Nat Fraser - who now faces a murder charge - did not seem to be concerned about his wife.
The trial heard that members of Arlene’s family went to Elgin after she was reported missing on April 28, 1998, searching her home in Smith Street for clues to the 33-year-old mum-of-two’s possible whereabouts. They were joined from time to time by Nat Fraser.
Mrs Thompson continued: "We were sitting at night and there was a toy moustache one of the children had.
"He put it on and said: ‘This was the disguise Arlene used for getting away’
"I felt it was terrible that he could joke about anything like that. He didn’t seem to be upset about anything."
Mrs Thompson also described a TV press conference when family members appealed for information about Arlene, and Nat Fraser had to read his words from a piece of paper.
"I didn’t think he was very enthusiastic to find out anything about Arlene," added Mrs Thompson.
Asked by advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, about her impression of Fraser, Mrs Thompson replied: "He didn’t seem that bothered one way or another.
"He didn’t seem to be trying to find any information, you know, the same as we were doing.
"We were trying in every direction to find out something. He seemed quite happy to feed off us."
The trial heard how Mrs Thompson confronted her son-in-law in the living room at South Street.
"I asked him if he had done anything to Arlene and he said: ‘What would be the point of that?’
"I said: ‘ You would have your house, your business and your freedom’ and he said: ‘I wouldn’t have Arlene.’
"I said: ‘You wouldn’t have Arlene anyway. She was divorcing you."
The trial heard that a search of the Smith Street address revealed Arlene had not taken her sun-glasses, contact lenses, store cards, passport or bank book.
The jury were shown photos of the bathroom there, and a small wooden shelf beside the mirror over the wash-hand basin.
Mrs Thompson said she thought it might be to put rings on.
In court she identified Arlene’s eternity ring, diamond and gold wedding ring and saphire and diamond engagement ring.
"If you had seen them, noticed them, how do you think you would have reacted to that?" asked Mr Prentice.
"We would have handed them over to the police," replied Mrs Thompson.
She said she became aware they had appeared in the house at some point but could not recall the date.
"I think I was in the living room at night, maybe with a reporter or something like that," she said.
Arlene’s step-mum, Catherine McInnes, told her about the rings. Before then she had not seen them on the shelf above the sink.
"If they had been there, was there anything to stop you seeing them?" asked Mr Prentice. "No" Mrs Thompson told him.
She added: "They couldn’t have been there or we would have handed them in."
Nat Fraser, 53, denies attacking wife Arlene between April 28 and May 7, 1998 at the home they once shared in Smith Street, New Elgin, or elsewhere in Scotland.
It is alleged that he strangled her or murdered her "by other means to the prosecutor unknown."
Fraser has lodged papers in court claiming that 14 years ago on April 28 he left the address in Burnside Road, Lhanbryde, where he was staying at about 7.30a.m. and spent the day making van deliveries to hotels, restaurants and shops - pausing to make a phone call just after 9a.m.
Fraser also claims that if mum-of-two Arlene was murdered, as prosecutors claim, the man responsible could be Hector Dick of Mosstowie, Elgin.
As defence QC John Scott began his questioning of Mrs Thompson, the court heard that there had been an earlier trial in 2003 when Hector Dick had been one of three men accused of murdering Arlene, but had left the dock and given evidence for the prosecution.
Another man on trial then, Glenn Lucas, is now dead.
The trial continues