Thursday, May 31, 2012

Crown Office ‘breathe sigh of relief’ as majority verdict of jury convicts Nat Fraser of murdering wife after second trial

PROSECUTORS at Scotland’s Crown Office are ‘breathing a sigh of relief’ after the conclusion of the second trial of Nat Fraser in which a jury convicted by a majority verdict, the former fruit and vegetable wholesaler for the killing of his wife, mother-of-two Arlene Fraser, whose body has never been found. The second trial of Mr Fraser came after he successfully appealed his conviction to the UK Supreme Court in London last year : Fraser (Appellant) v Her Majesty's Advocate (pdf)

The Crown Office released the following statement : Nat Fraser convicted of wife murder

Nat Fraser was today found guilty of murdering his wife Arlene Fraser in Elgin in April 1998. He has been sentenced to life imprisonment, with a 'punishment part' of 17 years.

His conviction follows a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

David Harvie, Director of Serious Casework at COPFS, said: "Today's conviction sees Nat Fraser brought to justice for the murder of his wife Arlene in 1998. The Crown is absolutely determined to ensure that criminals are brought to justice for crimes they have committed, no matter the passage of time nor the legal complexities involved."

Grampian Police has today welcomed the conviction of Nat Fraser. Detective Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson said: "Our immediate thoughts are obviously with Arlene's family. "Hector, Cathy, Isabelle, Bill, Carol and Steven have shown such courage throughout the last 14 years."

The Herald Newspaper reports on the case :

Nat Fraser gets 17 years for wife's murder

Published on 30 May 2012

A "possessive and controlling" businessman who arranged the murder of his estranged wife after she began divorce proceedings was jailed for life today following a retrial.

Nat Fraser was ordered to spend at least 17 years behind bars for killing mother-of-two Arlene Fraser, whose body has never been found.

Mrs Fraser was 33 when she vanished without trace from her home in New Elgin, Moray, on April 28 1998.

Nat Fraser, 53, was today convicted of "instructing, instigating and organising" her murder after a fresh trial lasting more than five weeks at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The trial heard claims the former fruit and vegetable wholesaler admitted to paying a hitman £15,000 to kill her and said his wife's body had been burned.

Fraser was originally found guilty of the killing in 2003 but his conviction was quashed last year and a fresh trial was granted after the UK Supreme Court ruled that the initial conviction was unsafe. Fraser, 53, denied being behind the disappearance of his 33-year-old wife.

The trial heard claims Fraser's motive was that his wife was leaving him, and that she had seen a lawyer about getting a pay-off.

Fraser claimed that if his wife was murdered, the man responsible could be Hector Dick, who gave evidence for the prosecution.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, said in his closing speech that Fraser had "instigated and organised" his wife's murder.

However, John Scott QC, defending, said the case was "blighted by hindsight and assumption" and argued much of the Crown evidence was "unreliable".

Crown Office 'will be breathing sigh of relief'

Published on 31 May 2012

Victoria Weldon

A FORMER top prosecutor has claimed the Crown Office will be "breathing a sigh of relief" at Nat Fraser's conviction after the Supreme Court quashed the verdict the first time round.

Brian McConnachie, vice-chairman of the Faculty of Advocates Criminal Bar Association, said prosecutors could have faced heavy criticism had the verdict not gone their way.

Fraser was originally convicted of hiring a hitman to kill his wife in 2003, but an appeal which led to a lengthy legal dispute over undisclosed evidence resulted in a retrial.

Mr McConnachie said: "I'm sure they are breathing a sigh of relief in the Crown Office because no doubt difficulties with the first case would have been held up by many observers had it not gone their way.

"People would have suggested a guilty man had been acquitted because of a blunder by the Crown and I suppose there would have been some merit in that suggestion because everyone seems to accept that it was a blunder."

The appeal was initially heard at the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh where judges refused it. When the Supreme Court went on to grant it, the SNP called for that avenue of appeal to be closed off.

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