Bernadette Walker Murder Trial: Prosecution warns jury to ‘watch out for smoke and mirrors’ and tells them ‘it is absurd’ to think Bernadette is still alive
The prosecution have told the jury in the Bernadette Walker murder trial that they ‘cannot believe a word’ either Scott or Sarah Walker say as closing speeches began today.
Bernadette Walker was last seen on the morning of July 18 last year, when Scott Walker - known to the 17-year-old as ‘dad’ but not her biological father - went to pick her up from her grandparents’ home.
In the days leading up to July 18, Bernadette had told friends and her mum, Sarah Walker, that Scott had sexually abused her over a number of years.
The prosecution say that after picking Bernadette up from the grandparents’ home in Werrington, Scott Walker drove Bernadette out into the Fens and killed her.
Scott Walker says Bernadette had gotten out of the car in Peterborough and walked away.
He denies murder and four counts of perverting the course of justice. Sarah Walker denies two counts of perverting the course of justice, and had pleaded guilty to two counts of perverting the course of justice.
After the final piece of evidence was presented to the jury - a weather report saying it rained on the night of July 19 in Peterborough - the jury were given directions of law by Judge Mrs Justice Maura McGowan, before the closing speeches began.
Lisa Wilding QC, prosecuting, opened her closing speech by telling the jury to ‘look out for smoke and mirrors’ in both defendants’ accounts.
She then told the jury: “For the first time in 28 years I stand before a jury as a prosecutor and nothing would give me greater satisfaction than to say there is no case to answer and Bernadette is alive and well and welcome her into the courtroom.
“But that is not what I stand here to say.”
Ms Wilding told the jury it was ‘almost exactly a year to the day’ when Bernadette went to stay with her grandparents and went missing.
She told the jury: “Probably the first question you will have to answer when you start your deliberations, is whether Bernadette is dead. We say there is overwhelming evidence Bernadette is dead. The defendants do not accept that to be so.
“They, I imagine, say she is alive, living an imaginary life having reinvented herself with no help or support from anyone else.
“The notion that Bernadette is alive, in the face of all the checks made, that she is existing without financial support, without contacting anyone she had met in her 17 years, that she has, in effect reinvented herself without all the skills of an international spy - the fact she has done that is absurd.
“You heard evidence of sightings, fairly put before you, but there is not a shred of evidence any of those people was Bernadette.
“If that is right, and the prosecution has made you sure she is dead, then the next, most important question is have the prosecution made you sure Scott Walker killed her. And not just killed her, murdered her. “We suggest it was premeditated.”
Ms Wilding said that while Scott Walker is not charged with sexually abusing Bernadette - and he denies all the allegations - that the jury could believe she was telling truth about them.
Sarah Walker said Bernadette had admitted the allegations were a lie while at home, while Scott Walker said she had said they were a lie while in the car after he picked her up.
But Ms Wilding said Julie Walker - Bernadette’s grandmother - had said Bernadette had told her on the evening of July 17 that she had not been lying, and just wanted her mum to believe her, and told the jury there was no reason not to believe her.
Ms Wilding said Scott and Sarah Walker had woven a web of lies, starting even before Bernadette had been reported missing, and continuing in the days and weeks afterwards.
Giving legal directions to the jury Mrs Justice McGowan said they could make a negative inference from Scott Walker’s no comment police interviews, and from Sarah Walker not giving evidence in the trial - but they could not convict the defendants only on that fact.
She reminded the jury it was for the prosecution to prove the case against the two defendants, saying Scott and Sarah Walker do not have to prove their innocence. She told the jury they could only convict if they were sure the defendants were guilty.
She also told the jury that cases like this one can bring out an emotional response - but said they must put those feelings to one side and try the case on the evidence.
Ms Wilding is due to finish her closing speech this afternoon, with both defence closing speeches on Monday. Mrs Justice McGowan is also due to begin her summing up at the start of next week, with the jury told they are likely to begin their deliberations on Tuesday afternoon.
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 trial continues.