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Nat Fraser found guilty for second time of murdering wife Arlene in 1998

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Media captionNat Fraser has always denied murdering his wife Arlene back in 1998

Nat Fraser has been jailed for a minimum of 17 years after being found guilty for the second time of murdering his estranged wife Arlene in 1998.

Fraser denied being behind the disappearance of his wife, 33, from Elgin, Moray. Her body was never found.

He was found guilty in 2003 and jailed for at least 25 years, but started a long appeal process which finally saw his conviction quashed last year.

Mrs Fraser's relatives said Fraser should now "come clean".

The six-week retrial took place at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The jury had retired on Tuesday, and resumed their deliberations on Wednesday morning.

The jurors took a total of about five hours to reach a majority verdict, deleting the allegation that Mrs Fraser had been strangled.

The verdict was greeted with a slight shake of the head by Fraser, 53, and a wiping of his brow.

He was told he would have to serve 17 years in prison before he could apply for parole.

'Wicked' nature

Mrs Fraser's sister Carol Gillies said of the future: "It is too much for the family to bear another trial, another appeal.

Image caption Arlene Fraser's relatives said it was time to move on

"As far as I am concerned I am moving on - I am taking Arlene with me but I am moving on."

Judge Lord Bracadale told Fraser: "The evidence indicated that at some point you arranged for someone to kill your wife, Arlene, and dispose of her body.

"Thus you instigated in cold blood the pre-meditated murder of your wife and mother of your children, then aged 10 and five years.

"The murder and disposal of the body must have been carried out with ruthless efficiency, for there is not a trace of Arlene Fraser from that day to this and her bereft family continue to live with no satisfactory knowledge of what happened to her remains."

The judge said the "shocking and wicked" nature of the crime demanded a sentence well in excess of 20 years.

However, because of the "procedural history" of the case, the sentence was cut to 17 years, backdated to June last year.

Mrs Fraser was last seen on 28 April, 1998, after waving her two children off to school.

Hitman claim

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.

Image caption Lord Bracadale said Mrs Fraser's family had been left bereft

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.

It was claimed he had hired a hitman.

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

'Such courage'

The disappearance of Mrs Fraser became one of the biggest ever investigations for Grampian Police.

Det Ch Supt 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."

David Harvie, director of serious casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: "The Crown is absolutely determined to ensuring that criminals are brought to justice for crimes they have committed, no matter the passage of time nor the legal complexities involved."

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