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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 16:34 GMT
Husband guilty of Arlene murder
Arlene with child
Arlene Fraser was last seen alive in 1998
The jury in the trial of businessman Nat Fraser has found him guilty of murdering his wife who went missing almost five years ago.

Fraser, who had been charged with murdering mother-of-two Arlene in April 1998, collapsed as the judge passed sentence.

Judge Lord Mackay described the 44-year-old as "evil" before sentencing him to life imprisonment, with a recommendation to serve a minimum of 25 years.

We're strangers to the kids. I've had two or three letters over the last five years from them

Isabelle Thompson
Arlene's mother
He told the guilty man that "someone will have to explain to your two children that you have now been convicted of killing their mother - you, the father who has looked after those two children since their mother's death".

When the guilty verdict was announced, Fraser blinked repeatedly, shifted in his seat and looked at the floor.

There was a loud cry of "yes" from the public gallery and commotion for some seconds as members of Mrs Fraser's family shook hands and celebrated.

It can now be made public that in March 2000 Fraser was jailed for 18 months for assaulting Arlene, who at this stage had been missing for almost two years.

He was sentenced after admitting the charge of compressing his wife Arlene's neck to the danger of her life.

'Christian burial'

After the verdict on Wednesday, the family of the murdered woman said they hoped they could finally "grieve in private".

Arlene's father Hector McInnes said: "It's definitely been a roller-coaster, up one day, down the next.

"We hope we can see the light at the end of the tunnel this weekend and we can start our grieving in peace.

"We haven't been able to give Arlene a Christian burial and it looks like we may not be able to."

Nat Fraser
Fraser will serve at least 25 years in jail
Arlene's mother Isabelle Thompson claimed Fraser had tormented his wife's family by blocking access to their two children, Jamie and Natalie.

She said Fraser had changed the phone line at his home in Smith Street, New Elgin, allowed the children to reply to only a handful of letters and insisted on arranging visits through solicitors.

She said: "We're strangers to the kids. I've had two or three letters over the last five years from them.

"If they want to see us they should be given the chance."

The murder trial before judge, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, began on 7 January.

'Complex case'

To start, three men were in the dock accused of plotting to murder 33-year-old Arlene - Nat Fraser, Hector Dick and Glenn Lucas.

But on the sixth day of the trial, charges against Mr Dick, 46, and Mr Lucas, were dropped.

Hector Dick
Hector Dick, the co-accused who became a prosecution witness
Mr Dick was then called as a prosecution witness.

The indictment was changed and Fraser faced a charge of murdering Arlene - along with unknown accomplices. But Fraser denied throughout that he had done anything wrong.

After the verdict, a statement from the Crown Office said the case had been a particularly "complex and unusual one" for the prosecution.

It added: "It demonstrated the skill and professionalism of Crown Counsel and Crown Office and Prosecution Service staff.

"Grampian Police are also to be congratulated for their dedication and expertise in bringing this investigation to a conclusion.

"This case is an example of police and prosecution working effectively together in the interests of justice."

Gary McAteer, a member of Fraser's defence team, said his client planned to appeal.

He said Fraser had been examined by a police surgeon after collapsing in the dock but added that he had recovered.

Mr McAteer said: "When the verdict was announced, he momentarily lost the ability to concentrate because of shock and clearly almost fainted and was grateful for the assistance of police officers in helping."

"He is deeply distressed at the prospect of somebody having to tell his children about the result."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Colin Blane
"Members of Arlene Fraser's family shouted 'yes'"
 The case concludes
 NAT FRASER'S TRIAL
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