A KEY witness in the Arlene Fraser murder trial was dismissed as "the riddler".
A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh were told that the case against her estranged husband depended on the word of a proven liar who had chopped and changed his story over 14 years.
Fruit and veg wholesaler Nat Fraser (53), denies paying a hit-man to murder mum-of-two Arlene who vanished from her Elgin home in April 1998.
Continuing his closing speech today, defence QC John Scott asked the jury to acquit Fraser - even if they did not like him.
And the lawyer claimed that the Crown's key witness, farmer Hector Dick (56), could be the real killer.
Mr Dick, who invited Fraser to be best man at his wedding, has told the trial that his former friend confessed to hiring a hit-man to strangle Arlene, someone from "down South."
And he tried to gloss over gaps in his story by suggesting Fraser's story wasn't always clear.
Mr Scott said: "Does this talking in riddles sound like anyone we know? What about the riddler himself? What about Hector Dick?"
The lawyer told jurors: "If he came in soaking wet and said it was raining, you would have to put your hand outside the window."
Mr Scott said when Hector Dick was found hanging in his cell in Inverness Prison - after being accused of obstructing the police investigation into Arlene's murder - his suicide note was "cryptic".
Even in his "last message to the world" it wasn't clear what he was talking about.
After Mr Dick's recovery, said Mr Scott, he was soon back to his old tricks. He tried to get a fellow prisoner to back his story.
And he hinted to detectives that they had a 50-50 chance of finding Arlene's body - although Mr Dick denied making any such statement.
"If he said that, and it was true, there goes the Crown theory of a hit-man and a plan," said Mr Scott. "That is all rubbish."
Mr Scott continued: "The obvious conclusion from all this, and from his persistent lies, is that he (Mr Dick) killed Arlene Fraser."
Fraser's defence QC said the Crown had not proved their case beyond reasonable doubt, but agreed that some of the evidence did not show Fraser in a good light.
He had been selfish and he had behaved with "complete insensitivity towards other members of Arlene's family.
"I don't ask you to like Nat Fraser. You may have formed certain impressions of him over the trial and not everything would lead you to like him."
Mr Scott said: "Hector Dick has lied so often, even he cannot always separate out the lies from the truth."
He invited the jury: "Blow away some of the smoke and an awful lot of the important points come back to Hector Dick."
Fraser himself did not give evidence during the trial, now in its sixth week.
"That fact does not take the Crown one millimetre closer to proving their case," said Mr Scott.
"Nat Fraser has been consistent in saying one thing: He did not kill his wife and he was not involved in her disappearance."
The trial has heard allegations that Fraser's motive was that his wife was leaving him, and had seen a lawyer about getting a pay-off.
"If that is a motive for murder, then this country - Scotland we are talking about - has thousands of men police will need to keep a close eye on."
Fraser, 53, 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 7.30am 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 with judge Lord Bracadale expected to ask the jury to consider their verdict tomorrow (Tuesday).