Bernadette Walker Murder Trial: College classmates describe trying to contact missing teenager after her disappearance

The classmates and friends of missing teenager Bernadette Walker have spoken of their attempts to contact the 17-year-old after she went missing.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 5:59 am
Bernadette Walker.
Bernadette Walker.

The trial at Cambridge Crown Court heard how her friends would regularly communicate with Bernadette over social media - but that communication stopped on the day she went missing.

Scott Walker - known to Bernadette as ‘dad’ but not her biological father - is accused of her murder. He denies the charge.

It is alleged he killed her after she made allegations he had sexually abused her over a number of years. Her body has never been found.

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Bernadette was last seen alive on July 18 last year. At the time she went missing she was a student at Peterborough Regional College studying an art and design course.

The court heard from the safeguarding officer at the college that Bernadette had a 96 per cent attendance - described as ‘very high’ and had received a merit grade for her work.

Jonathan Polnay, the junior prosecuting barrister, read a number of statements from class mates and friends of Bernadette’s.

One, from someone described as ‘a good friend’ of Bernadette’s said: “She was very active on social media, publishing daily Instagram stories and memes.

“She was also on Snapchat, TikTok and Facebook.

“She would go through periods of being off social media, but the longest it would be for was two days.
“I would describe her as a bubbly person, but she could be shy at times. I’d describe her as an introvert.”

Another student on Bernadette’s course said there was a group chat on Snapchat that the class was on, and they said ‘Bernadette was very active on it.’

The student said Bernadette’s last post in the group chat was on July 15, when she posted the word ‘magic.’ She had not opened any other messages in the chat since.

A friend Bernadette met at school said she had tried to contact the 17-year-old on Snapchat and Instagram since she had gone missing - but no messages had been opened or responded too.

Another classmate described the same thing - trying to contact her a number of times, but none of the messages had been read or replied to.

Some of her classmates described seeing a post Bernadette had made saying she had told her mum about the allegations Scott Walker had sexually abused her, describing it as unlike Bernadette to post something so personal.

Earlier in the day, the jury had heard from Martin Griffiths, an expert in cell site data analysis, who explained to the jury how it was possible to say where handsets were, and at what time.

He also gave an explanation on what may have happened when phones were disconnected from the network.

He said disconnections were split into two categories, an ‘explicit’ disconnection, which could include the phone being switched off, put into airplane mode or running out of battery, or an ‘implicit’ disconnection, which could include a phone being smashed on the ground or submerged in water.

Bernadette was last seen alive when she was picked up from her grandparent’s home by Scott Walker at 11.06am on July 18.

Scott Walker’s phone was disconnected from the network at 11.23am - and Mr Griffiths said that was an ‘explicit’ disconnection - although cell site data did not make it possible to say exactly what had happened to disconnect from the network.

Sarah Walker, Bernadette’s mum, was not in court today, with the jury being told she was ill. Judge Mrs Justice Maura McGowan told the jury the illness was not COVID related, and Sarah Walker is expected to be back in court tomorrow.

Scott Walker (51) of Century Square, Peterborough denies murder and four counts of perverting the course of justice.

Sarah Walker (38) of Century Square, Peterborough, denies two counts of perverting the course of justice. She has pleaded guilty to two other counts of perverting the course of justice,

The trial continues.