Bernadette Walker Murder Trial: Police investigate more than 20 possible sightings of missing teenager
Police have looked into more than 20 possible sightings of Bernadette Walker since she was last seen alive - but none have proved to be her, the jury in her murder trial has been told.
The 17-year-old was last seen alive on July 18 last year, when Scott Walker - known to her as dad but not her biological father - picked her up from her grandparents’ home in Peterborough.
In the days leading up to her disappearance she had alleged Scott Walker had sexually abused her. It is alleged Scott Walker murdered Bernadette. He denies the charge, and says she got out of the car and ran away.
Today, the prosecution told the jury there had been more than 20 reported possible sightings of Bernadette to the police - but officers had been able to rule a large number of those sightings out.
Lisa Wilding QC, prosecuting, read out a list of 22 reported sightings - with some reported as far afield as Kent, Birmingham, Wiltshire and Great Yarmouth, and dating from around the time she went missing until June this year.
Some were able to be quickly ruled out - in one example, a worker at the Peterborough Foyer said he had believed he had seen her in July or August last year, and the female in question had said she had been kicked out of her home by her mum. The worker said he had phoned the council to report the situation. The police were able to trace the call that was made - and discovered it was made on May 7 2020, more than a months before Bernadette went missing.
In other incidents, police were able to identify the woman who had been reported as possibly being Bernadette.
In one example, a report was made that someone matching Bernadette’s description had been seen at a garage.
Police were able to locate the owner of the car the woman was reported as being with, and confirm it had not been a sighting of Bernadette.
In other examples, CCTV was able to be examined, and confirm that the possible sighting was not that of Bernadette.
In a number of cases, however, no CCTV was available of the time or area where the report was made, and it was not possible to carry out any more investigations.
The jury was also told details of the searches carried out in an attempt to find Bernadette’s body, after the investigation was declared a murder investigation.
The court heard that a search of a lock up garage used by Scott Walker, his car and the family home at Century Square, Peterborough, had not revealed any blood belonging to Bernadette.
Extensive searches took place in countryside in and around Peterborough, starting following the start of the murder investigation.
In total 36.8 square km of countryside was searched in and around Cowbit, with sonar equipment and dive teams used to search waterways, and police dogs used to search dry land.
A further 22.5 square km of countryside was also searched in Gunthorpe and Newborough.
The court was told weather conditions, resulting in plant growth and changes to the land meant the searches were difficult.
The search operation concluded on Christmas Eve last year.
During the trial, the jury have heard a lot of evidence surrounding the use of phones - and specifically Bernadette’s phone - after she was last seen.
A professor of linguistics examined the phone and social media messages sent from Bernadette’s phone and social media accounts after her disappearance.
The professor said the writing style was ‘incompatible’ with the normally observed style used by Bernadette - but was compatible with Scott and Sarah Walker.
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 charges she has admitted relate to the sending of messages from Bernadette’s phone and providing false information to police, while believing Bernadette was alive.
The two she denies relate to the same allegations, but are instead that she believed Bernadette was dead.
The jury were told the prosecution case was likely to be closed on Monday morning.
The trial continues.