Bernadette Walker Murder Trial: Defence do not ‘accept or concede’ teenager is dead, jury told
Legal teams for the parents of missing Peterborough teenager Bernadette Walker have said they do not accept or concede the 17-year-old is dead.
Bernadette was last seen on July 18 last year, when Scott Walker - known to her as dad but not her biological father - picked her up from her grandparents.
She had gone to stay with them after making allegations Scott Walker had sexually abused her.
It is alleged Scott Walker murdered Bernadette after picking her up - but Bernadette’s body has never been found, and she has not been seen alive since July 18.
Scott is also charged with perverting the course of justice, while Bernadette’s mum is also charged with perverting the course of justice.
Yesterday (Tuesday) the court was told a number of checks were carried out by police to try and find out if Bernadette was alive or dead.
DC Kelly Adams told the jury the enquiries were made in a number of areas - with health and medical, educational, financial, travel and phone and social media records checked.
DC Adams said that records showed Bernadette’s last recorded appointment at her GP surgery was on May 7 2020, her last appointment at her dentist was in July 2018 and her last optician’s appointment was in December 2019.
She told the jury that an alert was placed at hospitals and her GP surgery on July 27, which would mean that if she was admitted, police would be notified - but no notifications have been received.
DC Adams said officers had also made contact with the Cambridgeshire mental health team, and The Kite Trust - which deals with transgender issues - and no contact had been made.
She told the court regular checks were made at hospitals including Peterborough City, Stamford, Addenbrooke’s, Queen Elizabeth in King’s Lynn and Hinchingbrooke, but there had been no contact from Bernadette.
Bernadette was a student at Peterborough Regional College, and up to lockdown, she had an attendance record of 96 per cent - but she has not attended since July 18.
There were no financial records for activity involving Bernadette since July 18, with checks made at the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC.
Her passport was found at the family home at Century Square, and the Passport Office confirmed there were no reports of it being lost or stolen.
Enquiries were made at the National Border Targeting Centre, but there were no records of Bernadette travelling.
Checks were also made at homeless shelters, the YMCA and soup kitchens in the Peterborough area, and there were no records of Bernadette attending.
Her DNA was uploaded onto the National Missing Person Database, and the National DNA Database, but there have been no matches. The court was also told there have been no CCTV sightings of her since July 18.
Mitchell Cohen, representing Scott Walker, asked DC Adams if she had been looking for proof of life or proof of death during the investigation.
She said; “We were looking to establish whether Bernadette was alive or dead. The objective was to locate Bernadtte Walker.”
Mr Cohen said: “If she was not dead, she could not have been murdered.”
He told the jury that when Bernadette was last seen, she was in good health, with no ongoing issues - so she would not have needed to contact her GP.
He also told the court that the police investigations as to whether she had contacted her GP only ran up to January 26 this year.
DC Adams said further enquiries had been made this week - but they had not yet received a reply from the GP surgery.
She said: “Given that there was an alert on her file, police would have been notified (if she had attended the surgery).” Mr Cohen said: “You should have been notified, but it could have been missed.”
Mr Cohen also confirmed with DC Adams that checks had only been made with Bernadette’s opticians and dentists, not at other branches across the city and country. The jury was also told the mental health teams were only contacted in Cambridgeshire.
Addressing Bernadette’s financial situation, he said it was ‘quite possible to live off cash in hand’ jobs, and it was possible she could have purchased a ‘burner phone,’ and set up email and social media accounts ‘using any name you chose’.
Mr Cohen went on to say: “One reads in the press about people who smuggle themselves into the UK. Would it not be possible to smuggle yourself out of the UK?”
DC Adams replied: “Yes.”
Mr Cohen pointed out there had been a large car rally in Peterborough on July 18, with hundreds of people attending from across the country.
He asked if police had sent out reports to homeless shelters outside of Cambridgeshire.
DC Adams said: “No, not that I am aware of.”
Mr Cohen said: “If Bernadette wanted to stay hidden, she could be anywhere in the UK. She could stay under the radar.”
DC Adams said; “Indeed if she has smuggled her way out of the UK she could do that world wide.”
DC Adams said: “Potentially, yes.”
Mr Cohen asked: “Have police sent out pictures to some bohemian areas, Camden Town, Bristol, Brighton, or any of the large metropolitan areas - Manchester or Birmingham, for example.”
DC Adams said: “No.”
Mr Cohen concluded: “Each year about 1,562 children go missing - including adults, 5,600 go missing in the UK each year.”
Colin Witcher, defending Sarah Walker, did not ask any questions of DC Adams, but said: “On behalf of Sarah Walker, it is not accepted or conceded that Bernadette is dead.”
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 counts of perverting the course of justice.
The trial continues.