A CLOSE friend of Nat Fraser "blew his chance" of helping police solve the mystery of his pal's missing wife, 14 years ago.
Farmer Hector Dick (56), told the Nat Fraser murder trial that he "felt sick" when thinking he had bought a car which might have played a part in her disappearance.
He said Fraser, who had split with Arlene after 11 years, told him: "If I can't have her, nobody will."
Mr Dick said he hoped Fraser had paid wife Arlene £25,000 to "F*** Off out of his life" - as he had suggested towards the end of their stormy marriage.
But he was also concerned and alarmed about comments the fruit and vegetable wholesaler had made about missing persons, the impossibility of prosecution without a body and how scientists could not identify a person from tiny bone fragments.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Mr Dick bought a £450 Ford Fiesta on Fraser's behalf, the evening before mum-of-two Arlene vanished on April 28, 1998.
Three days later Fraser whispered to him, while others were out of earshot: "We have had a wee bit of a scrape." The Fiesta would have to go back, said Fraser.
Mr Dick, his wife, Irene, Fraser's business partner Ian "Pedro" Taylor and his wife, Jane, were discussing Arlene's disappearance at the Taylor house in Lhanbryde, near Elgin, the trial heard.
Fraser was also there and seemed calm said Mr Dick. "He didn't seem very particularly bothered about it."
He added: "The children were the clue for the likes of myself because she loved her kids."
Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC asked Mr Dick if he thought the car he had bought could have something to do with Arlene.
"I wasn't very happy. I felt sick," Mr Dick told him.
Mr Prentice asked Mr Dick whether he should have contacted police because "something terrible" might have happened.
The farmer replied: "With hindsight, yes.
"At the time I went with the middle ground - that he gave her money to go away.
"Over the next two or three weeks I blew my chance and then I didn't know what to do.
"I got rid of the car which wasn't a very clever thing to do, with hindsight."
Fraser (53), denies murdering his estranged wife - and in papers lodged in court has suggested that, if Arlene was murdered, Hector Dick was her killer.
The jury has heard that in 2003 Mr Dick faced a murder charge, but swapped dock for witness box during a trial.
Fraser was best man when Mr Dick married Irene in 1996.
Mr Dick said Fraser visited him on the Sunday before Arlene vanished from her home in Smith Street, Elgin, and became "quite intense" about wanting a cheap car.
His own black Ford Granada with personalised number plate A19 NAT had been torched some days before.
Fraser said he needed a car because his business partner Pedro wanted him to return the green Suziko 4X4 he had borrowed.
Mr Prentice asked if anything during the conversation that afternoon had alarmed Mr Dick - anything about missing persons, he prompted.
Mr Dick said Fraser had told him: "There are 10,000 people a year who go missing and none of them ever get found"
The farmer continued: "He had an ill will towards his wife, so I took it in that context. It was towards his wife."
The trial heard that when Mr Dick made a statement to police some time later about the afternoon of April 26 1998, he told them that Fraser had also said of Arlene: "If I can't have her, no-body will."
There was a 45-gallon drum at Wester Hillside Farm which Mr Dick used for incinerating rubbish - including a lamb which had died of pneumonia.
"He (Fraser) made a comment: 'That is what you do with dead stock'"
Mr Dick also said Fraser told him about reading in the library about people who went missing.
"If people disappear and a body is never found there can never be a prosecution," Fraser is supposed to have said.
Fraser had also been reading a scientific magazine, Focus, said Mr Dick.
"He was talking as though he knew all about such things and he said he had seen an article in the magazine, Focus."
Mr Dick gestured with his fingers as he continued: "When there was anything smaller than a piece of bone this size they could not identify.
"He says if there was anything smaller than that they could not identify a body."
Asked how he felt, Mr Dick replied: "I was a bit concerned but I knew he was talking rubbish as well, so I didn't know what to think about it.
"I had heard similar from him before, but not in that context."
Fraser had also spoken of "green-eyed jealousy" said Mr Dick.
Mr Dick also described how he had bought a Ford Fiesta for cash - although there was no reason why Fraser could not have bought it himself.
It was delivered to the farm the evening before Arlene disappeared, and left with the key in the car for Fraser to collect it.
At 7.30a.m. the following morning, Mr Dick noticed the Fiesta wasn't there as he prepared to work, steam cleaning skips which had been used to transport fish waste and poisoning rats.
He said that Tuesday - the last day Arlene was known to have been seen - his did not visit Smith Street and didn't see Fraser.
Then on the Thursday Fraser told him there was a problem and the car had to go back.
Nat 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 also faces an allegation that he arranged "the surreptitious purchase" of a car.
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 9am.
The trial continues