The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2012 – Investigation 'could have been handled better', court hears
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This story appeared in the Northern Scot, May 25, 2012.
KEY evidence said to show that Nat Fraser murdered his estranged wife was returned to him while police continued their search for the Elgin mum.
A box containing Arlene’s personal effects was handed to Fraser in August or September, 1998 – four months into the inquiry.
As well as a scribbled note left for Arlene by her son, Jamie, asking “Where are U?” the box contained Arlene’s passport, store cards – and the three rings later described as “the cornerstone” of the prosecution case.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard that detectives later changed their minds, and asked for the box back.
In late October, Arlene’s family had been questioned about the appearance of the rings, nine days after Arlene vanished.
“He was asked for what was described as the cornerstone of the Crown case, and he handed it over freely?” asked defence QC John Scott.
Former Det Sgt William Robertson (58) told the lawyer: “I think you are asking the wrong individual. I had nothing to do with the management of the inquiry. ”
Mr Scott asked him: “Returning the rings to Nat Fraser could be described as a mistake?”
Mr Robertson replied: “Yes”.
The former detective admitted that with hindsight, some aspects of the police investigation could have been handled better.
He agreed that when Arlene’s stepmother told him of the discovery of the rings, he should have taken statements from all the family members in the house, and that the house should have been secured, instead of allowing the family to stay there.
But he said that the property, at 2 Smith Street, was not immediately seen as a crime scene.
The trial heard that even after a thorough police search, family members found other personal effects belonging to Arlene, such as watches and a denim shirt.
Mr Scott asked the former detective whether they could have been missed by searchers.
“Or they were planted after we searched the house. That was something we could not exclude,” replied Mr Robertson.