The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser Files: 2003 – Diary of a murder hunt
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
This story appeared in the Northern Scot, January 31, 2003.
October 1998 – There was still no sign of Arlene six months after her disappearance, and her family stepped into the media spotlight once again in the hope that it would help police piece together the mystery.
They appeared on the BBC television show Frontline Scotland and expressed their fears that she may be dead.
Nat Fraser also appeared on the show to deny his involvement in her disappearance, and said he believed she was alive and well somewhere.
November 1998 – Detectives revealed their most crucial lead in the case, and made a public appeal from information on the whereabouts of a beige Ford Fiesta.
It was sold in Elgin the night before Arlene vanished, but had not been seen since.
Efforts to trace the souped-up B-registration car drew a blank, leading police to believe that it had been scrapped.
April 1999 – On the first anniversary of Arlene's disappearance, her distraught family made an heartfelt plea for the public to come forward with information that would solve the mystery.
Officers in charge of the case said they believed she had been abducted and murdered.
March 2000 – Nat Fraser is jailed for 18 months at the High Court in Edinburgh for a life-threatening attack on his estranged wife six weeks before her disappearance.
The judge described the attack, in which he compressed her neck, as a "nasty and unprovoked" dangerous assault.
November 2000 – Nat is released from Porterfield Prison in Inverness after serving nine months.
January 2001 – Farmer Hector Dick is jailed for 12 months after admitting lying to police investigating Arlene's disappearance - he consistently told officers he had no knowledge the Ford Fiesta they believed was linked to the case.
It emerged that Dick had bought the car from mechanic Kevin Ritchie for £400, paying him an additional £50 to "keep quiet about it."
He changed his plea on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice to guilty midway through a trial.
April 2001 – Just months after his release, Nat Fraser was back behind bars.
This time he was imprisoned for a year after claiming he didn't have the money to pay for his defence in the earlier serious assault charge.
As a result, taxpayers forked out almost £19,000 in Legal Aid costs to pay for solicitors and counsel for his appearance at the High Court in Edinburgh.
He admitted the fraud charge when he appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court.
June 2001 – Fruit wholesaler Glenn Lucas appeared in private at Elgin Sheriff Court on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice in connection with the Arlene inquiry.
The arrest was made after Grampian Police officers travelled to his home in Spalding, Lincolnshire, to carry out a search of his home and business premises.
At the same time, police swooped on lock-up garages in Elgin.
They searched over 750 garages in the town after receiving new leads in the mother-of-two's disappearance.
They refused to reveal what they were looking for, but were interested in rows of lock-ups and any which appeared to be neglected for some time.
July 2001 – Nat Fraser and Hector Dick are charged with the murder of Arlene Fraser.
During a private appearance at Elgin Sheriff Court, they also faced charged of conspiracy to murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
The dramatic development followed an intense two-day search of Dick's farm at Wester Hillside and the Fraser's matrimonial home.
In a further twist Dick – still serving his prison sentence at Porterfield – was rushed to hospital followed a failed suicide bid.
He was released from Raigmore Hospital after treatment and returned to his cell.
April 2002 – Indictments are served against Nat Fraser, Hector Dick and Glenn Lucas, accusing all three of murder, conspiracy to murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
January 2003 – Nat Fraser, Hector Dick and Glenn Lucas appear in the dock at the High Court in Edinburgh on trial for the murder and conspiracy to murder Arlene Fraser.
Just days into the trial, the case against Dick and Lucas is sensationally dropped and Fraser is left to face the charge on his own.
As the trial drew to a close, the Crown dropped the charges against Fraser of attempting to defeat the ends of justice, leaving him in the dock accused of the remaining charge of murder.