MURDER accused Nat Fraser tried to fool his wife into thinking he was short of cash, it was claimed.
A friend of the couple said she thought he had planted a bank statement where she would find it.
Jane Taylor (52), wife of Fraser’s business partner Ian "Pedro" Taylor told the High Court in Edinburgh she was "annoyed."
Fruit and veg wholesaler Fraser (53), denies murdering estranged wife, Arlene, who vanished from the family home in Smith Street, New Elgin, 14 years ago while in the process of ending their stormy 11 year marriage.
The charge alleges that Fraser knew his estranged wife had seen a solicitor about getting a financial settlement as part of a divorce.
The trial has heard that after the couple split Fraser went to stay with the Taylors at their home at Lhanbryde, just outside Elgin.
The Taylors were friends of both Arlene and Fraser and Mr Taylor had been best man at their wedding.
Mrs Taylor said from time to time she went into Fraser’s room.
"Did you ever find something that annoyed you?" asked advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting.
"Yes. A bank statement. It was lying on a chest of drawers," replied Mrs Taylor.
"There was very little in it and I just felt it was left there for me to see so I would go back to Arlene and tell her he didn’t have any money."
Mrs Taylor agreed with defence QC John Scott that she thought Fraser was trying to use her to get some form of financial advantage over Arlene.
Fraser has lodged papers in court claiming that farmer Hector Dick of Mosstowie, near Elgin, could be Arlene’s killer.
Mr Taylor (53), was questioned about chloroform and a plastic sheet in the boot of Hector Dick’s car some months before Arlene’s disappearance.
Mr Taylor said Mr Dick had a friend he visited on Skye, or one of the islands, and came to Taylor and Fraser for vegetables.
Mr Taylor said the farmer told him that a bottle in the car contained chloroform "for the cows" and the plastic sheet was to stop the boot getting in a mess if he stopped to pick up road-kill deer.
Mr Scott suggested: You asked him (Mr Dick) what this liquid in a plastic container was and he told you it was chloroform and he said it was for killing his beasts."
Mr Taylor told the lawyer: "He didn’t say killing his beasts. He said it was some kind of medication for the animals,"
He told the trial he could not remember what he might have said to the police years ago.
Mr Scott suggested Hector Dick saved on vet fees by killing animals himself. "Probably that is what farmers do," replied Mr Taylor.
Mr Taylor also said he had discussed the break-up of the Fraser marriage with his friend and business partner and advised: "Leave her with the house and go."
He also gave an account of the moment Fraser was told Arlene was missing on April 28 1998.
A friend of Arlene’s had phoned Mrs Taylor and she handed the phone to Fraser and he went pale.
"I could just see Nat draining and I didn’t know what he was being told," he later said to police.
Mr Taylor told the trial that they went into Elgin to look for Arlene and report to the local police station.
Asked how Fraser had been after his estranged wife vanished, Mr Taylor said: "He was a bit nervous for the first day or so, then back to his normal self."
Fraser denies attacking wife Arlene (33), 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 7.30a. 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...