The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2003 – Brutal reality behind the wedded bliss
This story appeared in the Northern Scot, January 31, 2003.
HE WAS a Jack the lad businessman, she was an attractive young woman with an eye for a good-looking man with money.
Their wedding video captured the love they once shared – even if the groom was sporting a black eye from a stag night fracas – but the marriage was marred by rocky patches, violence and separations until the day when Arlene Fraser vanished.
The High Court trial heard evidence that just weeks before her disappearance in April, 1998, Arlene's estranged husband warned her she "would not live with anyone" if she left him.
But it was only after the jury returned its guilty verdict that they heard how Nat Fraser had strangled her half to death when she returned home in the early hours of Mother's Day after a girls' night out and she began divorce proceedings.
Was it Fraser's fears over losing his children and watching them being brought up by another man or the cost of his divorce settlement which drove him to murder?
Could a father be so evil and calculating as to plan the murder of his children's mother and be willing to pay a hitman to carry out the heinous crime just to protect his own wealth and image?
Fraser, a partner in the Elgin fruit and veg firm Taylor and Fraser, was often surrounded by admiring women when he played guitar with his band as a young man and it was at one such function in 1986 he met the woman he was to marry, Arlene Mclnnes.
Arlene took her new boyfriend, who was six years her senior, to visit her family in Hamilton and as soon as sister Carol saw him, she knew her sister had found the man she wanted.
Their mum found Fraser good company but worried about his reputation as a ladies man.
The couple married in 1987, when Arlene was pregnant with their son, Jamie, who was born in August the following year and five years later, in 1993, daughter Natalie completed their family.
Speaking on a BBC Frontline Scotland programme broadcast in October, 1998, six months after Arlene went missing, Fraser told how his wife was "special".
"The wedding day started at six in the morning, I got up at six, I started my work early, the rest of the lads were the same...because everybody at work was at the wedding.
"I can remember everything about the day.
"I was nae long married and Arlene was pregnant with Jamie, the wee lad, so he took up a lot of the time.
"I worked a lot, ken, so I wasn't often at home an awful lot.
"It was great married life, it was really. It was fine, calms you doon a bitty."
As a youngster, Arlene had loved going out with friends to pubs and discos but to her family's surprise, she took immediately to motherhood and was very proud of her children.
Problems in the marriage had become evident even before Natalie was born, however, when Arlene fled the Fraser family home, taking her son with her, and stayed at a women's refuge for five weeks.
She went back to Fraser but their relationship remained explosive with constant rows.
Friends described how they always seemed to wind each other up, with each being to blame, but Arlene was also seen bruised and battered.
The day Arlene went missing, she had an appointment to see her solicitor about a divorce and the family say it was not the first time she had contemplated ending her marriage, only for Fraser to persuade her to try again for the sake of their kids.
After almost a decade of being a full-time mum, with Natalie now at school, Arlene was changing and looked for a fresh challenge.
She started a business studies course at Moray College which she enjoyed.
She was meeting different people and going out socialising with friends, but rumours she had a new man in her life – said to have been spread by her estranged husband – were dismissed by her closest friends and the police.
Arlene told friends at the start of 1998 she and Fraser were considering a trial separation but they continued to live together until his attack on her just weeks before her disappearance, which led to his being bailed on an attempted murder charge.