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 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 15:23 GMT
Arlene murder charges dropped
Arlene Fraser
Arlene Fraser went missing in 1998
Two of the three men accused of plotting to murder missing Elgin woman Arlene Fraser have had the charges against them dropped.

In a dramatic development, the High Court in Edinburgh heard that the Crown would not be proceeding with charges against Hector Dick and Glenn Lucas.

Advocate depute Alan Turnbull QC, prosecuting, told the court that he intended to call Mr Dick as a witness against Arlene's estranged husband Nat Fraser, 43.

Mr Fraser of Smith Street, New Elgin, has denied plotting the murder of the 33-year-old mother-of-two and disposing of her dismembered corpse.

Hector Dick
Hector Dick walks free from the court
The prosecution's announcement that it was dropping the charges against Mr Dick and Mr Lucas took the courtroom by surprise.

The judge, Lord Mackay, told the jury that decisions to drop charges are entirely a matter for the prosecution.

Fruit and vegetable salesman Mr Lucas, 51, of Station Road, Surfleet, Spalding, Lincolnshire and farmer Mr Dick, from Elgin, Moray, had denied the charges.

It was alleged that they, along with Mr Fraser and unknown accomplices, conspired to murder Mrs Fraser and dispose of her body.

Lord Mackay told the court on Tuesday: "The advocate deepute has informed the court that the Crown has withdrawn the libel, withdrawn the charge against both of you.

Juror excused

"In view of that decision I can discharge you from the dock."

Mr Dick left the courtroom but Mr Lucas remained in the public benches as the judge explained that the decisions on charges lay with the Crown.

"The court itself has no role to play," he said.

Lord Mackay also explained that there would be a delay before the trial could continue.

Mr Fraser's defence team would have a right to interview Mr Dick and Mr Lucas - something which could not be done while the two men were still facing charges.

The jury, which was reduced to seven men and seven women after one woman member was excused - was warned not to speculate about what had happened and to remain open-minded about the case.

The trial was adjourned to allow Mr Fraser's legal representatives to respond to the development.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Isabel Fraser
"Hector Dick will be called as a witness against Nat Fraser"
See also:

10 Jan 03 | Scotland
09 Jan 03 | Scotland
08 Jan 03 | Scotland
06 Jan 03 | Scotland
07 Jan 03 | Scotland
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