Bernadette Walker Murder Trial: Jury retires to consider its verdicts
The jury in the Bernadette Walker murder trial have retired to consider their verdicts.
During the trial, which is now into its sixth week, the jury have heard how Scott Walker - known to 17-year-old Bernadette as dad, although not her biological father - is accused of murdering her on July 18 last year.
It is alleged he killed her after picking her up from her grandparents after she made allegations he had sexually abused her.
Scott Walker denies murder has told the jury Bernadette got out of the car and disappeared, effectively running away from home.
Scott Walker also faces four counts of perverting the course of justice, while 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.
The perverting the course of justice counts are split into two pairs.
The first pair relate to messages sent from Bernadette’s phone and social media accounts after she was last seen alive. The second pair relates to false information given to police.
For both pairs, one count relates to the defendants knowing or believing Bernadette was dead, and one relates to believing she was alive. Sarah Walker has pleaded guilty to both counts relating to believing Bernadette was alive.
Concluding her summing up to the jury, Judge Mrs Justice Maura McGowan gave the jury a ‘routes to verdict’ document, which showed what questions must be answered when the jurors consider the evidence.
For the murder charge, she said the first question they must ask is: “Are we sure Scott Walker unlawfully and intentionally killed Bernadette Walker?”
She said the unlawfully part of the question related to whether it was in self defence, and intentionally part related to whether it was an accident - and she told the jury they ‘may not want to think too long about those aspects.’
If the answer to that question was ‘no’ they must find him not guilty. If the answer was ‘yes’ they should move on to question two.
Question two in relation to the murder count was. “Are we sure that at the time he killed Bernadette he at least intended to cause really serious harm?”
Judge McGowan said it was enough for a guilty verdict to murder for the jury to be sure he intended to at least cause really serious harm to Bernadette when he killed her (if they are sure he did kill her).
If the answer was no to either question, the jury must return a not guilty verdict. If the answer was ‘yes’ to both questions, they must return a guilty verdict.
For the perverting the course of justice counts, the first question they must ask when considering both defendants - which they should do separately - was ‘are we sure that they knew, or believed, Bernadette Walker was dead?’
In the case of Sarah Walker, if the answer was ‘no,’ then they must return not guilty verdicts to the counts she denies. If the answer was ‘yes’ they must return guilty verdicts to those counts, as she has admitted the elements of perverting the course of justice in her guilty pleas.
For Scott Walker, if the answer was ‘no’ then they should ignore the count relating to knowing or believing Bernadette was dead, and concentrate on the other two counts.
On the counts involving sending messages, the next question to ask was: “Did he send the false messages from Bernadette’s phone intending to give the impression she was still alive, and did sending those messages tend to pervert the course of an investigation?”
On the counts involving giving false information to the police, they should ask: “Did he give false information, or join in giving false information to police, and did giving that information tend to pervert the course of justice?”
If the answers were ‘no’ the jury must deliver not guilty verdicts. If the answer was yes, the jury should ask themselves: “Are we sure he intended to pervert the course of justice?”
Again, if the answer was no, they must deliver not guilty verdicts. If the answer was yes, they must deliver guilty verdicts.
Judge McGowan reminded the jury it was important that they work as a team during their deliberations, and make sure each member has an equal say and an equal vote.
Finally, she told the 12 jurors: “You may have heard something about majority verdicts. This does not apply in this case. We want verdicts upon which all 12 of you agree. If we get to the stage where that changes, I will bring you back and give a legal direction.
“You will have as long as you need. We have no idea how long you will take, and I suspect you have no idea how long you will need.”
The jury left court to start their deliberations at 12.30pm today.
The jury will conduct their deliberations between 10am and 4pm, with verdicts not taken by the court between 1pm and 2pm.
The judge also thanked court staff who had specially prepared a room for the jury’s deliberations.
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.