|Posted by admin on June 21, 2011 at 7:14 AM|
A beige Ford Fiesta stored at a local farm the night before Arlene vanished, is believed by police to be part of the puzzle.
It was bought from a local dealer the day before she disappeared.
A north-east farmer is to go on trial accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice in the investigation into the disappearance of Elgin mother Arlene Fraser
He appeared at the same court last October faced with a charge of repeatedly denying to police that he had purchased a car sought by police in connection with their inquiry.
A Moray mechanic has told a court that he sold a car to a local farmer the night before Elgin mother Arlene Fraser disappeared.
Kevin Ritchie claimed he did the deal with Hector Dick of Mosstowie, near Elgin.
Mr Ritchie, 34, told the trial at Dingwall Sheriff Court that he sold the car to Mr Dick, a friend of Mrs Fraser's husband.
He said Mr Dick had asked him to supply a vehicle, which he wanted the next day if possible.
Mr Ritchie added that Mr Dick had paid him £50 more than the £400 asking price and told him to "keep quiet about it".
Mr Dick's wife had earlier been called to the witness box, but exercised her right not to give evidence against her husband.
Mr Dick had demanded a car "with a boot" in a hurry and had paid Mr Ritchie £50 to keep quiet, the court heard.
Mr Ritchie, 34, told Dingwall Sheriff Court yesterday that he later became uneasy about selling the car.
He said that when Dick, who knew the missing woman's husband, Nat, asked him to get another car for him months later, he decided not to. He told the court: "The way I saw it was that if that Fiesta had anything to do with Arlene Fraser I didn't want anything to do with it."
Mr Ritchie said that Dick, of Wester Hillside, Mosstowie, was a friend who had asked him to come to his farm. He claimed that after he arrived Dick asked him to buy a "cheap" car.
Mr Ritchie, a self-employed mechanic from Moray, said: "I said I would see what I could find. He wanted it for the next day." He added that while he was at the farm Mrs Fraser's husband arrived and Dick asked him not to mention the car in front of him. Mr Ritchie later telephoned Dick to say he had the choice of a Fiesta or Volvo and was told to get the "handiest" one.
Procurator fiscal David Harvie told the court that the accused (Hector Dick) had been recorded discussing the missing car with Kevin Ritchie who was alleged to have sold him the vehicle.
He also said that subsequently Dick, of Wester Hill Farm, Mostowie, near Elgin, had told police officers the Ford Fiesta had been crushed at an Elgin scrapyard.
Dick pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice after being caught on video discussing the missing vehicle.
Dick argued through his defence lawyer that, in lying to police about a Ford Fiesta car, he had been trying to protect himself against criminal charges surrounding the supply of bootleg alcohol.
Dick, a friend of Mrs Fraser's husband Nat, was originally due to stand trial last year in Elgin, but in October the trial was shifted to Dornoch at the defence's request.
A witness has admitted burning and crushing a car because of fears that it might be linked to the disappearance of missing Elgin woman Arlene Fraser, a murder trial has heard.
Hector Dick, 46, told how the Ford Fiesta was taken from his farm the night before Mrs Fraser disappeared and turned up again the following weekend.
Mr Dick bought a B-reg Ford Fiesta from local mechanic Kevin Ritchie, 36, on 27 April.
Mr Dick said on Monday that the car was left in the yard of Wester Hillside Farm, Mosstowie, near Elgin, where he lives.
The keys were in the ignition, as he had arranged with Mr Fraser.
"It wasn't there the next morning," he said.
Asked by advocate depute Alan Turnbull QC, prosecuting, who had taken the car, Mr Dick said: "I am not sure."
He found a bundle of child's clothing and a woman's coat in the car and was "concerned about the connection with the disappearance of Mrs Fraser", Mr Dick told the court.
After burning the car Mr Dick half-crushed the vehicle with his farm digger, loaded it into a tractor-trailer and delivered it to a scrap-yard in Elgin.
There were three separate witnesses who gave statements to the effect that they saw Hector Dick driving a Ford Fiesta car in the Elgin area between 09.00 and 10.00 on April 28, 1998. These statements have subsequently disappeared. Source: Letter from Unnamed Cop Reg McKay and Glenn Lucas from Murdered or Missing as reported in Daily Record 25th April 2005.
Mr Dick admitted he had burned and crushed an old Ford Fiesta at his farm because he thought it was linked to Arlene's disappearance.
Paul McBride QC, defending Mr Fraser, accused Mr Dick of being "a habitual liar, a serial liar" when he was being questioned by detectives.
The farmer admitted that he had told lies to police, saying: "My loyalty was to Nat at that time."
Farmer Hector Dick, 46, of Mosstowie, near Elgin, admitted lying to police for more than four years about the whereabouts of the Ford Fiesta, which became one of the focal points of the police inquiry.
Mr Dick said he acted out of a combination of loyalty to Fraser and distrust of police who were investigating his wife's disappearance.
He said: "I don't expect any prizes. I made a mistake.
"We were close friends and the nastier the police got at times, the more I sided with him.
Mr Dick, 46, denied telling Detective Chief Inspector Ian Japp and Detective Sergeant Bob Mackay in 1999 that Mrs Fraser's body might be recoverable.
Mr McBride asked: "Did you say to the police: 'I know what you are after. The car is 70% gettable and the body 50%'."
Mr Dick denied this.
However, Mr Japp said he was "very clear" the words were used, and he had scribbled the comment down on a piece of paper.
Detective Sergeant Bob Mackay - now retired after 22 years as a detective and eight years in uniform - described lengthy interviews with Mr Dick in which he told "a pack of lies" about buying the Fiesta.
However, eventually Mr Dick confessed his involvement in obtaining the vehicle and disposing of it later.
Asked by Mr McBride if Mr Dick's courtroom claim that he had been threatened was "a bare-faced lie" Mr Mackay said: "I did not threaten Mr Dick at any time."
Mr Mackay also denied whispering threats to Mr Dick during a car journey between Elgin police station and Inverness Prison in June 2001 when the farmer was serving a sentence for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
"Who is the liar?" asked Mr McBride. "It is not me," replied Mr Mackay.
He told the court he had also heard the remark made earlier to Mr Japp about the car being obatainable.
"I would never forget that," he said.
Paul McBride QC called scrapyard manager Richard Murray, 26, who works at Spey Bay Salvage in Fochabers, as a witness.
Mr Murray said that in April 1998, three men had brought a beige Ford Fiesta to the yard to sell.
He said he had told police about the visit in November of that year but added it was not until March 2002 that he was able to identify one of them, the lead negotiator, as Hector Dick.
Mr Murray insisted that Mr Dick, who is 46, was the man with whom he had dealt over the car.
Police eventually persuaded Mr Ritchie to meet Mr Dick while wired up with recording equipment, and hold a conversation about the missing car, in which Mr Dick talked openly about having bought it.
Kevin Ritchie, 36, a car mechanic, of Duthil Cottage, North Street, Cummingston, told how in the first week of April 1998, he went to Hillside Farm, where Mr Dick asked him if a car with no number plates could be traced. He said: ''I told him the engine numbers and the chassis numbers could identify the car.'' Mr Ritchie said he was subsequently called by Mr Dick at 5.46pm on April 27, 1998, and drove to the farm. He told Alan Turnbull, QC, advocate-depute: ''He said he was looking for a cheap car and was in a hurry to get it. He wanted a car with a boot.'' Mr Ritchie said his brother had a car for sale and he called him but was told that it was in a local garage and he could not get it until the next day. ''He didn't want to wait until the next day,'' he said. ''He wanted it that night.'' While he was there, Mr Fraser arrived and he was introduced, Mr Ritchie then drove to Elgin, where he found two possible cars, a Volvo estate and a Ford Fiesta, and he called Mr Dick who told him: ''Get the first one you can get.'' He bought the beige Fiesta, registration B231 PDY for (pounds) 400 and, after removing the stereo, drove it to Mr Dick's farm. Mr Ritchie told the court: ''He (Mr Dick) appeared and he jumped into the car with me. He told me to drive to the bottom of the path. He drove it into the shed and parked it up. I think the keys were left in it. He closed the door (of the shed) and locked it.'' He said Mr Dick did not examine the car but paid him the (pounds) 400. ''He handed me an extra (pounds) 50 and said 'That's to keep quiet about the car'.'' Asked if Mr Dick had given any explanation as to why he needed a car when he already had a Ford Sierra, he said: ''He said he had been some place the week before and someone had recognised his car.'' Cross examined by Donald Findlay, QC, for Mr Dick, Mr Ritchie said Mr Dick had told him he ''wanted to put something in the back and he didn't want anyone to see it''. Mr Ritchie said Mr Dick said he wanted to put a few cases of bootleg drink in the boot, and admitted that he himself was involved in bootleg drink sale