The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2012 – Police at odds on Arlene evidence
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This story appeared in the Northern Scot, May 25, 2012.
THE Arlene Fraser murder trial has heard how police officers clashed over seeing her rings.
The wedding ring, engagement ring and eternity ring became key evidence against husband Nat Fraser, the High Court in Edinburgh has heard.
Fruit and veg wholesaler Fraser (53) denies murdering his estranged wife.
Her stepmother, Cathy McInnes (75) says the rings mysteriously appeared in the bathroom of Arlene’s Elgin home nine days after she vanished on April 28, 1998.
But PC Julie Clark (43) told the trial yesterday (Thursday) that she saw rings within hours of Arlene being reported missing.
PC Clark said it was only much later that the rings appeared to take on any significance for the inquiry team.
She recalled a conversation at Elgin police station with William Robertson (58), then a detective sergeant, who has since retired.
He raised the subject of the rings, said PC Clark.
“He suggested I was mistaken about seeing the jewellery,” she said.
PC Clark told defence QC John Scott that she replied: “Are you asking me to lie for you?”
Mr Scott asked if she was quite clear about asking that, pointing out that Mr Robertson had given a different version.
“He is mistaken,” said PC Clark.
The trial heard that PC Clark and colleague PC Neil Lynch (59) – who has since left Grampian Police Police and become transport manager for the London Olympics – were sent to make regular checks on the Smith Street house.
She said they were looking for signs of Arlene.
They checked all the rooms, including the bathroom.
“Did you see anything which caught your attention?” asked Mr Scott.
“Yes,” replied PC Clark. “Jewellery. ”
Mr Scott said: “Tell us what you saw. ”
PC Clark answered: “Rings, and a chain or a bracelet. ”
She said there were at least two rings on a dowel peg under a shelf over a wash-hand basin, but she did not form an opinion about what kind of rings they were.
“Are you in any doubt about what you saw?” asked Mr Scott.
“None whatsoever,” PC Clark told him.
“Did it occur to you to remove this jewellery and take it back to the police station?” she was asked.
PC Clark replied that at the time, the case was a missing person inquiry, and she did not attach any significance to the rings.
She told the trial that after the sighting she attended one briefing and did not mention the rings.
After that she went off sick and played no further part in the inquiry.
The conversation, in the kitchen area of the Elgin station’s resource centre, took place in 2002 – around the time when preparations were being made to put Fraser on trial.
PC Clark said she did not know how Mr Robertson knew that she claimed to have seen the rings on the night of April 28-29, 1998.
After the conversation, she said, she continued to have “a professional working relationship” with Mr Robertson.
It had never been particularly warm, she told the trial.
Mr Scott asked: “Has it been easy for you, your involvement in this case?”
“Not particularly,” PC Clark told the lawyer.
The trial continues.