The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2003 – Fraser denies removing rings
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This story appeared in the Northern Scot, January 31, 2003.
MURDER accused Nat Fraser denied removing his wife's rings from her dead body and planting them in the family home more than a week after she disappeared.
Fraser (44), rejected a claim by Advocate Depute Alan Turnbull QC, prosecuting, that he was the only one who could have placed the rings in the bathroom of the family home at 2 Smith Street.
Arlene's engagement ring, wedding ring and an eternity ring mysteriously appeared in the bathroom on May 7, 1998 – nine days after she vanished without trace.
The court had heard earlier in the trial how the police made a video of the home the day after 33-year-old Arlene went missing and the rings could not be seen in the bathroom.
Her step-mother, Mrs Catherine Mclnnes, discovered the rings on a dowel under a soap dish beside the bathroom mirror.
Arlene's family and police officers had carried out a thorough search of the house for clues as to what had happened to her, but the rings had not been there initially.
The indictment against fruit and veg salesman Fraser included a charge that he placed the rings in the house on May 7.
Arlene's dad had earlier described seeing Fraser waiting to go to the bathroom that day when he was at the house, and heard later that the rings had been found there.
Fraser returned to the witness box on Monday and under continuing cross-examination by Mr Turnbull he denied any involvement in the strange re-appearance of the rings.
Mr Turnbull said: "The first explanation is that Arlene had left them in the house and some member of her family or someone else found them, and instead of saying so had left them on the dowel rail for someone else to find," he said.
"We had a group of distraught individuals, all of whom loved Arlene, together at 2 Smith Street and they were desperately concerned about what had happened to their daughter, sister and friend.
"They were desperately concerned about the effect of her disappearance on the children. The adults did various things. They searched the house high and low for any clue as to what might have happened to Arlene.
"They found lots of her possessions, including her medicines, contact lenses, spectacles and two of her watches.
"Surely you can't think that in this exercise somebody found the rings and decided not to tell anybody else about it?" he asked Fraser.
"I can't answer that question because I just don't know what other people were thinking," replied Fraser.
Mr Turnbull added: "Arlene was wearing the rings when she was killed and somebody removed them from her dead body and returned them to the house."
Mr Turnbull asked Fraser, leaving aside the question who did it, whether he agreed that this was an obvious conclusion.
"I don't know if she was wearing the rings or not. She used to take them off at night," said Fraser.
"On May 7 Hector Mcinnes said that at some time around lunch-time he came out of the bathroom and there were you hanging about to get in," said Mr Turnbull.
"Did you put the rings on the dowell rail?" he asked.
"I most certainly did not," replied Fraser.
"Is it just a coincidence that on this day you were not only in the house but the bathroom?" said Mr Turnbull.
"I would have been in the bathroom most days," said Fraser.
Mr Turnbull asked whether Fraser believed someone might have planted the rings in the bathroom to put him in a "bad light".
"I can't answer that question because I don't know what other people were thinking," Fraser responded.
Mr Turnbull put it to Fraser: "The only sensible explanation is that you put them in the bathroom."
"l didn't," said Fraser.
Mr Turnbull claimed that whoever placed the rings in the bathroom must have had access to Arlene's body.
Hector Dick's evidence that Fraser had confessed to burning and disposing of the body in the two weeks after her disappearance, proved that he had access to the body, he added.
"Hector Dick sat in the dock for a week hearing evidence about the rings before he made a statement to the police," said Fraser.
Mr Turnbull, who had earlier lost his patience with Fraser over a series of "I don't know answers" in connection with the rings, said: "The reason you don't talk about the rings is that they imply your guilt?"
"I certainly did not put them on the dowel! I am not guilty," Fraser said.
Mr Paul McBride QC, defending, put it to Fraser: "In the assumption that he (Mr Dick) is correct and you have killed your wife and over a two-week period, under the noses of the police, dismembered and burnt the body, can you think of any reason why the rings would be returned to the house?"
"I never put the rings back in the house," said Fraser.