The Northern Scot's Arlene and Nat Fraser files: 2003 – 'Tears' that hid grim truth
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.
NAT Fraser blinked back tears as he told that he kept hoping his wife was alive – until hearing in court that she had been strangled and her body burned.
He appeared visibly shaken when speaking of her death.
Defence advocate Paul McBride QC asked Fraser if he was all right to continue and Fraser paused for a moment before nodding.
Fraser, giving evidence in his own defence last Friday, spoke of the difficult years since 1998 looking after their children in the home he and Arlene had shared at 2 Smith Street, New Elgin.
Earlier last week the trial heard Fraser's former friend, farmer Hector Dick, 46, of Wester Hillside Farm, Mosstowie, Elgin, claim that in a number of conversations Fraser had said 33- year-old Arlene had been strangled by a hit-man.
Her body was supposed to have been burned, ground down and the remains scattered.
Asked if he knew any "hired thugs" who would kill someone for money, Fraser said that he didn't.
And he dismissed Mr Dick's evidence as "rubbish" and "lies".
He denied that the alleged confessions – including a whispered conversation about a Ford Fiesta thought to be linked to the murder – had ever taken place.
Mr McBride asked him: "When came the time when you thought Arlene might not be coming back?"
Fraser replied: "When I gave up hope...? Monday, after Mr Dick's evidence."
He told the court it was "a big shock" when the murder charge against Mr Dick was dropped earlier in the trial and he was "terribly shocked" when he found out later, from his legal team, what the farmer intended to say about him.
And, he added, he didn't know whether Mr Dick had anything to do with Arlene's disappearance.
Mr McBride put it to Fraser: "To arrange for the cold-blooded execution of the mother of your children and – not just doing that – later to take the lifeless body away and burn it, and dismember it and grind it up, would be a disgusting thing to do?"
"Oh yes," Fraser told him.
"Did you have anything to do with that at all?" continued the lawyer.
"No," said Fraser.
"I knew nothing about the disappearance, nothing to do with anything that has been suggested."
When Mr McBride asked again if he thought his wife was dead, Fraser replied: "Aye."
Mr McBride: "You have told us hope was given up when Hector Dick gave his evidence. Do you think Hector Dick has something to do with her death?"
Fraser: "I don't know."
His lawyer said either Mr Dick or Fraser was telling the truth, but not both.
"He is either telling the truth, in which case you are a liar and a perjurer and a murderer, or you are telling the truth in which case he is a perjurer. Which is it?"
Fraser told him: "He is telling one big story and I think it is plain to see."
Fraser denied that on April 28, 1998, he had arranged an alibi by making sure he was making deliveries in the Elgin area with his van boy and making a telephone call to a woman in Fochabers.
Apart from the telephone call, he said that Tuesday was the same as any other Tuesday for years past.
Fraser also denied that on May 7 – nine days after his estranged wife vanished – he put her engagement ring, wedding ring and eternity ring in the bathroom of the Smith Street house.
He further denied making a "callous" remark in the house to Arlene's father, Hector McInnes, that the children would soon forget their mother.
The court has heard that Fraser lived all his life in Elgin, starting his fruit and veg business in 1981 and working hard to develop the firm to the point where it employed 14 people.
At the time when Arlene disappeared he reckoned his share of the partnership was worth perhaps £60,000 to £80,000.
Fraser, who no longer has any connection with the business, met Arlene, who worked in a clothes shop, in 1985.
They married in May 1987 and their son, Jamie, was born in August of that year.
Daughter Natalie was born five years later.
Fraser said the marriage had been happy in 1987 but there had been arguments and separations.
He told the court he loved his wife, she was a good mother and he thought she was happy.