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The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2003 – Judge recommends 25 years for 'evil' Fraser

By Chris Saunderson

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This story appeared in the Northern Scot, January 31, 2003.

TRIAL judge Lord Mackay delivered a damning attack on Nat Fraser, branding him "evil", as he sentenced him to life imprisonment.

This story appeared in the Northern Scot, January 31, 2003...Picture: Northern Scot
This story appeared in the Northern Scot, January 31, 2003...Picture: Northern Scot

He said that for the "cold-blooded killing" of his wife Arlene, he should serve a minimum of 25 years before being eligible for parole.

Fraser, who had appeared to remain calm as the jury returned its majority guilty verdict, almost collapsed in the dock when the judge imposed the jail term.

He had to be held up by two police officers who then led him from the courtroom, and a doctor was called to examine him in the cells of the High Court in Edinburgh.

After being directed on matters of law by Lord Mackay on Wednesday morning, the jury had retired to consider their verdict at 11.36am.

The tension around the courtroom escalated as their deliberations continued, and just when it looked as if they would be out for the night, the court was called back in at 3.20pm.

The seven men and seven women of the jury filed back into their seats, and as a hush descended over the court, their chairman was asked by the clerk of the court if they had reached their verdict.

"Guilty,"" he replied, prompting screams of delight and cries of "yes" across the packed courtroom.

Arlene's mother, Mrs Isabelle Thompson, and stepmother Mrs Cath McInnes burst into tears and had to be comforted by other members of the family.

Advocate depute Mr Alan Turnbull, moving for sentence, revealed to the court Fraser's previous convictions, including his conviction, also at the High Court in Edinburgh, on February 9, 2000 for assaulting his wife to the danger of her life.

Fraser had attempted to strangle Arlene on March 22, 1998 – Mother's Day – after a row at the family home at 2 Smith Street, New Elgin, and just weeks after being released on bail from Elgin Sheriff Court, he was planning her murder.

Fraser's defence counsel, Mr Paul McBride QC, said simply: "There is nothing I can usefully add at this stage."

Passing sentence, Lord Mackay told Fraser: "You have been convicted in this court of the charge of murder, a charge which involved your planning and arranging for your wife to be killed.

"During this trial, both the advocate depute and the senior counsel who represented you sought to apply a number of descriptions to the conduct of someone who might act in such a manner and bring to an end the life of a young woman."

The judge continued: "I can find only one word to describe what you did. The word is 'evil'.

"It is difficult to comprehend how any man could bring himself to plan and arrange the cold-blooded killing of his wife and the mother of his two young children.

''That is what you stand convicted of, and for the purposes of seeking to avoid the financial consequences of a divorce and your wife beginning a new life independently of you.

"Your evil conduct did not cease in April, 1998. For almost five years since that date you protested your innocence, and by doing so caused untold additional hardship to Arlene's parents, sister and other members of her extended family who had already suffered the loss of a loved one."

Lord Mackay continued: "Later today, someone is going to have to explain to your two children that you have been convicted of killing their mother.

"They have suffered the body blow of losing their mother some five years ago, and will now learn that their mother was killed by their father, who has consistently lied to them over those last five years."

Lord Mackay issued a plea for people to respect the privacy of the children and those who would now have the job of looking after them.

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