FRUIT and veg wholesaler Nat Fraser was making his usual delivery rounds on the day his estranged wife disappeared, a murder trial heard today.
He was at the wheel of a distinctive seven and a half ton lorry decorated with cartoon characters "Natalie Nectarine" and "Jamie Jaffa" - called after his son and daughter.
The High Court in Edinburgh also heard that Fraser paused on his rounds for tea and a scone in an Elgin cafe and made a phone call to a woman called Hazel in Fochabers.
The call was made from a phone box around the time wife Arlene (33), was last seen or heard of.
The events of April 28, 1998 were recalled by Grant Fraser (32).
"I was Nat’s lorry boy," he told the trial.
Grant Fraser said he was not related to the accused, but had known him almost all his life. Nat Fraser taught him to play guitar while he was still at school.
Grant Fraser agreed with advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, that that April day was much like any other Tuesday.
Nat Fraser has lodged papers in court claiming he has an alibi for that day - when prosecutors allege he might have attacked Arlene at the family home in Smith Street, New Elgin.
He was shown the list of deliveries detailed in the alibi document.
Grant Fraser, who had worked for the Taylor and Fraser firm for a couple of years said Sandra Stewart, who ran the Rowantree Restaurant in Elgin’s High Street was particularly keen to get her delivery on time.
She also provided tea and a scone.
During their deliver that morning Nat Fraser went to a nearby phone box as Grant Fraser watched.
"I was sitting in the lorry," he said.
He told the trial the call was to a woman called Hazel. "I just knew Nat had been phoning her," he said.
The court has seen phone records which list a call to a Fochabers number at 9.05am and a longer call to the same number at 9.14am.
Then they continued the rest of the day’s deliveries.
Grant Fraser told defence QC John Scott that he had been questioned about his story and had always been telling the truth, even when police put him under pressure.
The story had also been checked against the lorry’s tachograph he said.
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."
The indictment against Fraser says he knew Arlene had seen a solicitor about divorcing him and getting a cash pay-off.
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 7.30am and spent the day making van deliveries to hotels, restaurants and shops - pausing to make a phone call just after 9am.
Fraser also claims that if mum-of-two Arlene was murdered, as prosecutors claim, the man responsible could be Hector Dick of Mosstowie, Elgin.
The jury has 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, was now dead. The third man was Fraser.
The trial continues....