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Craig Anderson reports
"Fraser accepted he'd grabbed Arlene by the throat"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 13:44 GMT
Arlene husband jailed
Isabelle Thompson, Carol Gillies, Hector McInnes outside court
Arlene's mother, sister and father arrive at court
The husband of a woman who has been missing, presumed dead, for nearly two years, has been jailed for 18 months for assaulting her.

Nat Fraser was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh after previously admitting a reduced charge of compressing his wife Arlene's neck to the danger of her life.

The judge Lord Morison said it had been a "nasty, wholly unprovoked and dangerous assault".

Fraser in handcuffs
Fraser is led away after sentencing
"However I do accept you showed concern and remorse very soon after the assault was committed," he added.

"I accept also it was out of character on the basis of the references provided to me.

"In all the circumstances and taking into account all the matters put before me I consider a comparatively short period of custody is appropriate."

Fraser, 41, was originally charged with attempting to murder his wife at their home in Elgin a month before she disappeared in April 1998.

But the charge was amended when he appeared in court on 9 February.

National appeals

Arlene's sister Carol Gillies said she was "sick with sadness" at the decision to delete the reference to attempted murder.

Despite national appeals and a 20,000 reward, no trace has been found of the missing woman. Police and family believe she is dead but the search is continuing.

After Fraser was jailed, Ms Gillies said: "It has taken us a long time to get to the stage where we are at just now.

Arlene Fraser
Arlene vanished after taking her children to school
"I am very glad the courts have taken this charge very seriously. The next few months are going to be very busy because the police are very dedicated."

Arlene was last seen waving the couple's two children off to school. They are now aged 12 and seven.

The court heard that the Frasers' marriage ran into trouble and she consulted solicitors first in 1990 and three more times up to the end of 1997.

The assault happened after Arlene arrived home from a night out with friends.

She later told friends that when she came round she was in the living room and she may well have lost consciousness.

'Loss of temper'

Defence counsel Neil Murray QC told the court: "What we have is an inexcusable loss of temper leading to actions which were in essence out of character and were followed immediately after the event with an indication of concern and an indication or remorse."

Doctors who examined Mrs Fraser after the attack found bruising on her left shoulder, her upper chest, her left arm and her back.

Police officer with poster
The search goes on for Arlene Fraser
She had bruising on her neck because of the throttling attack and tell-tale haemorraghing on her eyelids, which commonly features in strangling cases.

Mr Murray said part of the delay in bringing the case to court was that a number of challenges were made under the European Convention on Human Rights, claiming that Fraser could not get a fair trial because of publicity.

The challenges were ultimately rejected by the court but Mr Murray attacked media coverage of events, some of which he said "the shade of Dr Goebbels would no doubt be delighted by".

Nat Fraser has also been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice over his alleged knowledge of a car bought on the eve of her disappearance.

His friend, Moray farmer Hector Dick, faces the same charge.

Both are expected to appear at Elgin Sheriff Court to answer those allegations.

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12 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Missing woman's husband in court
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