MURDER accused Nat Fraser watched police searching his house and joked that they were wasting their time.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how a specialist police team - trained by Army engineers to carry out anti-terrorist searches - were called in after Fraser’s estranged wife, Arlene, was reported missing.
Fraser denies allegations that he attacked mum-of-two Arlene in the house at Smith Street, New Elgin - or paid someone else to murder her.
Gordon Methven (51), one of the searchers, told how Fraser came in as he worked back in April 1998.
"I cannot remember the exact words but it was along the lines of ‘You are wasting your time.’
"He said it with a smile. I thought it was rather strange at the time," said Mr Methven.
Mr Methven left the Grampian force in 2010 after 25 years police service and now drives minibuses.
He told defence QC John Scott: "I think it was intended as a joke."
"A poor joke?" asked the lawyer. "Yes," said the former constable. "It seemed inappropriate at the time."
The trial heard that Mr Methven later stated to police re-investigating the case in 2006 that Fraser was saying the police should be out looking for Arlene instead of searching his house.
Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, said that at the time a young mum had been reported missing and nothing had been seen or heard from her for more than a day.
"And you tell us he (Fraser) was laughing?" he asked.
"Yes," replied Mr Methven.
Fraser also smiled - in court today - when a witness claimed to have seen him riding a pink ladies’ bike.
A bizarre description of a cyclist with blond hair and wearing a red and black checked jacket with a sheepskin collar came from computer student James Murison (50).
Back in 1998 Mr Murison drove taxis and lived in a caravan at Hector Dick’s farm at Mosstowie, near Elgin.
He said he saw a damaged Ford Fiesta parked near the Dick house. "I thought it was a bit funny and I mentioned it to my girlfriend and she told me to keep my neb out."
Mr Murison said the man riding the pink bike with black handlebars was in his mid-30s and "a big gentleman."
"Did you tell the police who the man was?" asked Mr Prentice. "I believe it was Mr Fraser," the witness told him.
The trial heard that Mr Murison had made a number of statements to police and had not told the full story each time.
As he gave his evidence, Fraser could be seen chuckling in the dock.
Fraser (53) denies attacking his 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 that he knew Arlene had seen a solicitor about divorcing him and getting a cash pay-off.
Fraser has lodged papers in court claiming that on April 28, 1998, 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 Arlene was murdered, as prosecutors claim, the man responsible could be Hector Dick of Mosstowie, Elgin.
The jury has heard that at an earlier trial in 2003, Hector Dick was one of three men accused of murdering Arlene, but had left the dock and given evidence for the prosecution.
Another man then on trial, Glenn Lucas, is now dead. The third man was Fraser.
The trial continues.....