Nat Fraser may face wife murder retrial
Wednesday 25 May 2011
The family of a woman whose husband was convicted of murder even though her body was never found said they were "bitterly disappointed" today after he won an appeal.
Former fruit and vegetable seller Nat Fraser is facing a retrial after the UK's highest court ruled his 2003 conviction unsafe.
The Supreme Court in London said Fraser's lawyers had been denied access to evidence which could have made a "significant" difference to the outcome of his trial.
Fraser, 52, of Elgin, Moray, is serving a 25-year minimum term after being found guilty of murdering his estranged wife Arlene by a jury in Edinburgh.
Mrs Fraser, 33, vanished from her home on April 28, 1998.
Fraser appealed, arguing at a Supreme Court hearing in March that prosecutors had breached his right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.
A panel of five Supreme Court justices unanimously agreed and upheld Fraser's appeal today.
But the panel said judges in Scotland must decide whether Fraser's conviction should be quashed and whether he should face a re-trial.
Scottish prosecutors said they would seek a re-trial.
"We have noted the Supreme Court's decision," said a Crown Office spokeswoman. "The Crown will now seek authority to bring fresh proceedings against Nat Fraser for the murder of his wife Arlene."
In a statement, Mrs Fraser's family said: "Today's decision by the Supreme Court is bitterly disappointing.
"We accept today's decision. However, we fully support the Crown's intention to seek authority to bring fresh proceedings against Nat Fraser for Arlene's murder."
No decision has yet been taken on whether Fraser, who failed in an appeal to the Appeal Court in Edinburgh three years ago, should be freed on bail pending a re-trial.
The Supreme Court said part of the prosecution evidence was that Mrs Fraser's rings were found in the bathroom of her house on May 7, 1998.
Prosecutors suggested that Fraser had removed them from her body and placed them in the bathroom to make it appear that she had "decided to walk away".
But, the judges said, it later emerged that prosecutors had evidence from police to suggest the rings were in the house on the night Mrs Fraser vanished.
Fraser argued that the failure by the prosecution to reveal that information to his legal team infringed his right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"The court holds that the trial would have been significantly different if the undisclosed evidence had been available," said one judge, Lord Hope, in today's ruling.
"There is a real possibility that the evidence would have been sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt as to whether (Fraser) placed the rings in the bathroom on May 7.
"If that were so, the jury's verdict would have been bound, in view of the judge's direction, to have been different."
Saudi Arabia's King Salman sacks senior aide for 'slapping' a journalist behind him live on TV
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
- 1 Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
- 3 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 4 How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
- 5 Chinese theme park sets up 'death simulator' where volunteers can experience being cremated