The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2007 – Prosecutor 'would have fainted'
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This story appeared in the Northern Scot, November 16, 2007.
THE prosecutor in the Nat Fraser trial would have fainted if he had been told of key evidence that has now become available, appeal judges were told.
Evidence that a police officer had seen Arlene Fraser’s rings in her house within hours of her disappearance was so important it would have forced the Crown to completely rethink the way it conducted the trial, the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh heard on Tuesday. Defence QC Peter Gray, appealing Fraser’s murder conviction, said the Crown failed to disclose the evidence to the defence during the trial in January 2003.
The appeal judges were told that Advocate-Depute Alan Turnbull QC, who prosecuted the case, did not know of the evidence himself.
Mr Gray read from a statement given by Mr Turnbull, now a high court judge, as part of an investigation carried out in preparation for the appeal.
He quoted Mr Turnbull as saying: "If, in the course of the trial, you had shown me (PC Lynch’s statement) I honestly would have fainted, so inconsistent it had been with my thinking and my view of the evidence.”
Mr Turnbull had gone on to say that he would have investigated the evidence as it was “inconsistent with the theory he had developed” and would have had an obligation to disclose it to the defence team.
Mr Gray said the fact the Crown Office had requested an inquiry by the Association of Chief Police Officers of Scotland (ACPOS) into the case showed they realised there had been an error.
“That decision that there be such an inquiry...shows in the clearest terms that the Crown was acknowledging that there had been a failure in its duty to disclose information which undermined its case,” said Mr Gray.
The court also heard allegations a police officer had taken the rings from the house and returned them some time before they were found in the bathroom on May 7, 1998.
Mr Gray said Constable David Alexander had made a complaint about Detective Sergeant William Robertson, claiming he had kept the rings in his desk drawer.
He said Constable Alexander had claimed to have been told about this by Detective Sergeant David Slessor, who has since committed suicide.
Mr Gray said he was bringing the allegations to light only as background and it did not form the basis of his appeal.