The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2003 – Justice for Arlene
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This story originally appeared in the Northern Scot, January 3, 2003.
NAT Fraser was jailed for life this week after being convicted of the brutal and cold-blooded murder of his wife Arlene.
The Elgin businessman collapsed in the dock of the High Court in Edinburgh after being told he will spend the next 25 years behind bars for the gruesome killing of his 33-year old wife and mother of his two children.
Fraser had to be physically supported by two police officers as his legs buckled during sentencing.
He was helped from the court and examined by a police surgeon before being driven off to start his sentence.
The 44-year-old fruit and veg salesman was convicted by a majority verdict of arranging the murder of his wife in order to avoid a costly divorce- and deny her the chance of a new life with someone else.
There were cheers of delight and shouts of "yes" from family and friends as the jury returned its verdict after less than three hours of deliberation at the High Court on Wednesday.
And there were gasps of astonishment when Lord Mackay of Drumadoon declared that Fraser must serve a minimum of 25 years before being eligible for release.
Lord Mackay said he could find only one word to describe what Fraser did and that was "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 children," he said.
"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."
Lord Mackay said Fraser's two children – Jamie and Natalie – already reeling from the loss of their mother, would now be told that their father had killed her.
Arlene's mum Mr Isabelle Thompson, dad Mr Hector Mcinnes and sister Mrs Carol Gillies watched as Fraser was led away and later expressed relief that they had at last found justice for her.
Mr Mcinnes urged Fraser to tell police what he had done with her body so that the family could give her a decent burial.
"Obviously, we would like to have a gravestone but we don't have any remains to bury," he said.
Senior police officers who brought Fraser to justice after a painstaking investigation costing £2 million – the biggest criminal inquiry in the history of Grampian Police – revealed they plan to visit Fraser in prison in a bid to find Arlene's last resting place.
A friend of Arlene's, Michelle Scott (36), said: "I just hope Nat Fraser can find it in his heart to tell the police what he did with Arlene's body.
"For the sake of his own children he must do that."
Chief Inspector Alan Smith, one of the senior officers involved in the case, blasted Fraser as a "cold, calculated and self-centred" individual.
"Even as the jury returned he had an air of confidence about him. He fully expected the jury to come down in his favour," he said.
Fraser's murder conviction – one of only a handful in Scotland where a body has never been found – brought to an end a mystery that has gripped not only Elgin and Moray, but the whole of Scotland, for almost five years.
Fraser had protested his innocence throughout and during the 15 days of the High Court trial continued to deny any involvement in his wife's death.
However, the jury believed the evidence that Fraser hired a hit-man to strangle Arlene at the family home, 2 Smith Street, New Elgin, and then dismembered the body himself before burning it and grinding up the remains which he scattered close to the town.
Fraser had lodged a special defence of alibi which proved he wasn't at the house at the time Arlene disappeared on Tuesday, April 28, 1998.
However, he was convicted on circumstantial evidence, which pointed to his guilt, and the testimony of former friend and best man Hector Dick.
Mr Dick, of Wester Hillside, Mosstowie, turned against Fraser when he agreed to give Queen's evidence in return for a charge of murder against him being dropped by the Crown six days into the trial.
He claimed Fraser confessed to him weeks after his wife's disappearance that he had hired a killer from down south who strangled his wife at the family home.
Dick admitted burning and crushing a Ford Fiesta car, which he bought for Fraser the night before Arlene vanished, and which the police believed was used in her abduction and murder.
Fraser was also damned by the mysterious re-appearance of Arlene's rings in the bathroom of her home eight days after she went missing.
The Crown claimed Fraser was the only person who could have planted the rings and this meant he had access to Arlene's dead body.
Advocate depute Mr Alan Turnbull said: "There is something inherently just that even after death something of Arlene's can reach back and ensnare the man who promised he would live with her forever, and took her life because it no longer suited his purposes."
Fraser's defence counsel Mr Paul McBride QC had attacked Hector Dick as a serial liar and accused him of being the real murderer.
Fraser is set to appeal against both the conviction and sentence and solicitor Mr Gary McAteer, a member of his defence team, said: "He is deeply shocked by the outcome and clearly didn't expect this. He has never changed his opinion that he would be acquitted."
Mr McAteer revealed that Fraser recovered his composure after nearly collapsing in the dock and considered the sentence to be a "bit harsh".
"The sentence is very high but this reflects what the judge believes was a pretty nasty crime," added Mr McAteer.