Bernadette Walker Murder Trial: Defence tells jury ‘they cannot be sure Bernadette is dead’
There is no conclusive evidence missing Peterborough 17-year-old Bernadette Walker is dead, a jury has been told.
Bernadette Walker has not been seen, dead or alive, for more than a year after she went missing on July 18 2020. Scott Walker - known to Bernadette as ‘dad’ but not her biological father - is accused of murdering the teenager after she made allegations he had sexually abused her. The prosecution claimed he had murdered Bernadette to silence her about the allegations.
She was last seen when Scott Walker picked her up from her grandparents’ home in Werrington on July 18 last year.
A murder trial has heard Scott Walker say Bernadette got out of the car and disappeared.
Elizabeth Marsh QC, representing Scott Walker, made her closing speech this morning, where she told the jury there was no conclusive evidence Bernadette had died.
She said: “Look at the evidence that Bernadette is dead.
“There is no body, so we say there is no conclusive proof of death.
“The police have conducted a search over a number of weeks, using dogs, divers and drones in every geographical area the police and the prosecution consider there is a chance of the body being disposed.
“For all the hours and days that search continued, they were ultimately unsuccessful.”
She asked the jury if the could believe Scott Walker was capable of committing a murder which could beat ‘the brightest brains the police have to offer.’
She added: “It is said he parked up on a Saturday morning, in July in broad daylight, when there were plenty of people about.
“There is no way it would have been possible to kill her. The prosecution say it happened in the Fens, well, there are plenty of people about in the Fens, other vehicles, walkers, dog walkers, farmers, cyclists, runners.
“She is a fit, healthy young lady who one assumes would not succumb easily to being murdered.”
She said there had been ‘no forensic evidence that assists the prosecution in any way,’ with no blood or weapon found anywhere.
Ms Marsh also said there would be no reason for Scott Walker to murder Bernadette, saying: “The consequences of being convicted for murder are far greater than being convicted of relatively minor sexual offences.”
She told the jury that the prosecution had changed their theory during the course of the trial. Opening the case, Lisa Wilding QC, prosecuting, had told the jury that they believed Bernadette Walker’s body had been kept in a lock up garage after she was killed. But in her closing speech, she said the theory was now Scott Walker had left her body in the Fens after killing her, returning later to dispose of the body. Ms Marsh said the prosecution had changed their story, despite the evidence staying the same.
Ms Marsh said that while family and friends have not heard from her in the year since she was last seen, there could be a reason for Bernadette’s silence.
She said: “The prosecution say she has not been in touch with friends or family - that is true. If she were to get in touch it could mean she would have to get in touch with police, and she would not know the consequences of that. “It may have also meant getting in touch with aspects of an old life she wanted to leave behind.”
Ms Marsh said it was possible she could be anywhere in the country - and could also have travelled abroad, living off cash in hand jobs such as fruit picking, but the police efforts to find her had focussed on Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.
She also said that while investigations into a number of sightings of Bernadette since she had disappeared had proved inconclusive - because of a lack of CCTV - it was also possible she had changed her appearance.
Along with murder, Scott Walker, and Bernadette’s mum Sarah Walker, are also charged with perverting the course of justice, in relation to the use of Bernadette’s phone and social media accounts after her disappearance, and providing false information.
Ms Marsh said there was only evidence Scott Walker had sent one text from Bernadette’s phone - which she said had been done at ‘Sarah Walker’s behest.’
When he was arrested by police, Scott Walker gave no comment interviews each time he was questioned.
Ms Marsh said; “He was provided with a solicitor, and the advice the solicitor gave was to make no comment.
“Scott Walker is not a solicitor. He could have ignored that advice, but why would you? It would be unusual to do so.
“You may think he hadn’t bothered making a story up because he did not need to. She simply got out of the car.”
Alisdair Williamson QC, representing Sarah Walker will give his closing speech to the jury this afternoon.
Judge Mrs Justice Maura McGowan will then sum up the evidence to the jury tomorrow morning. The jury are expected to go out to start their deliberations at some point on Tuesday.
Scott Walker (51) of Century Square, Peterborough denies murder and four counts of perverting the course of justice.
Sarah Walker (39) 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.