Bernadette Walker murder trial: Judge tells jury hour and a half Scott Walker had mobile phone turned off when Bernadette went missing is ‘all important time’
The jury in the Bernadette Walker murder trial has been told the hour and a half when Scott Walker had his mobile phone turned off shortly after the teenage was last seen alive is ‘the all important time.’
Seventeen year old Bernadette was last seen on the morning of July 18 last year.
It is alleged Scott Walker - known to Bernadette as ‘dad’ but not her biological father - murdered her after she made allegations he sexually abused her.
He denies murder, and four counts of perverting the course of justice. Bernadette’s mum, Sarah Walker, denies two counts of perverting the course of justice. She has pleaded guilty to two counts of perverting the course of justice, relating to sending messages from Bernadette’s phone after she went missing, and giving false information to the police.
This morning (Tuesday, July 20) Judge Mrs Justice Maura McGowan began her summing up of the evidence to the jury.
She reminded jurors that Bernadette had been to stay with her grandparents in Werrington, Peterborough, on the night of July 17, and Scott Walker had arrived at their home at about 10.50am on July 18 to pick her up.
Judge McGowan recapped cell site evidence that showed Bernadette’s phone remained at the family home in Century Square overnight, and that Scott Walker left the Werrington home at 11.06am on July 18.
She said: “Julie (Bernadette’s grandmother) saw them (Scott and Bernadette Walker) drive away. Julie is the last witness who saw Bernadette.”
Evidence from Scott Walker’s phone showed he turned his phone off at 11.23am on that morning.
Judge McGowan said: “It is accepted by him that it was turned off. He said it was because it would charge more effectively when plugged into the car charger if it was turned off.
“At 12.54pm, it was turned on again.
“That is the all important time, about an hour and a half.
“Scott has given a number of accounts of what happened in that time.”
Scott Walker says that he stopped in Skaters Way, where Bernadette got out of the car and walked down an alleyway, and has not been seen since.
When his phone was turned back on he made a nine minute call to Sarah Walker. The prosecution allege he confessed to Sarah Walker he had killed Bernadette in that call, while the defence say he told her Bernadette had run away.
Judge McGowan said: “It is important to step back and concentrate on what was happening. The prosecution say the plan (to cover up a murder) was being put into action.
“The defence say no, that wasn’t what was happening. They say they were trying to buy time as they did not want social services coming to investigate.”
Judge McGowan said there had been a number of examples of ‘Scott and Sarah Walker acting together to deceive someone’.
One example was when, on July 19, Scott Walker used Bernadette’s phone to message Sarah Walker while she was at a friend’s house.
The jury were told that Scott Walker said he had done that following a trip to a shop the pair made on the evening of July 18, where Sarah Walker had bought a phone top up voucher and used it on Bernadette’s phone.
Judge McGowan said; “He says ‘I was trying to protect Sarah, as he had seen a CCTV camera at the shop and thought there might be footage and someone could put pieces together if there was an investigation by social services, so it was important to show Bernadette’s phone was not in Sarah’s possession’.
“What you make of that is up to you.”
While giving evidence during the trial, at times Scott Walker became emotional. Judge McGowan said; “Giving evidence is a difficult experience, standing in front of a very large room full of strangers. If you are the defendant you know you will be cross examined and everything will be picked up. This is particularly so if a defendant is giving evidence about something that is sensitive and personal. Think about these issues and consider them.”
Judge McGowan also told the court the prosecution said Scott changed his story once he had seen phone and cell site evidence, but he says he had not.
The judge told the jury that during police interview Scott Walker had exercised his right to silence.
She said; “He says he was taking advice from his solicitor.
“The prosecution asked him why he was not telling the police he could help find his missing 17-year-old daughter.
“It is up to you, but remember the burden of proof is on the prosecution.”
Sarah Walker has admitted sending messages from Bernadette’s phone, but did not give evidence during the trial.
Judge McGowan said: “Sarah didn’t give evidence. That is her right, but there are consequences.
“She has not explained why she sent the messages. She hasn’t told you what Scott told her in that nine minute phone call.
“She hasn’t told you of any conversations with Bernadette (about the sexual abuse allegations).”
Concluding her evidence she made a number of points - including that everyone involved in the case agreed that there was no evidence that Bernadette had killed herself.
She added: “You know the way Bernadette lived her life, how dependant she was on social media, her phone, Instagram, Facebook. There is not a trace of her on social media since she disappeared.
“You know her friends and heard evidence from them - gentle souls, you may think, trying to tell the truth. No-one suggests they are lying. They have not heard from her from that day to this.
“You know she walked away without any money, cards, ID, any way to get money. It is up to you if you realistically think she is the sort of girl who would take off to another city or country to start a new life.
“The case has had publicity so if she is alive she knows what is happening, and what is happening to her family.”
Concluding her summing up, Judge McGowan said; “Stop and ask yourself as you go through the evidence; What would have happened if Bernadette had walked through the door at that point. Her parents would have been expecting it to happen later on Saturday (July 18), or the next day, or the next.”
Yesterday, the jury were told by Judge McGowan that it was expected they would be retire to consider their verdicts today.
However, she said: ‘Covid has slightly delayed us,’ explaining to the jury that work needed to be done to make a suitable retirement room, where they would be able to watch videos that had been played in the trial, and that would be big enough for them.
The trial is scheduled to resume at midday tomorrow, with the jury expected to retire shortly afterwards.
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.