Bernadette Walker Murder Trial: Teenager’s dad was a ‘man on the edge’, police officer tells jury
The dad of missing Peterborough teenager Bernadette Walker was a ‘man on the edge’ when he spoke to police officers in September, weeks after the youngster was last seen alive, a jury has been told.
Seventeen-year-old Bernadette was last seen alive on July 18 last year after she was picked up by Scott Walker - known to Bernadette as ‘dad’ although not her biological father - from her grandparents’ home.
In the days leading up to her disappearance, she had made allegations that Scott Walker had sexually abused her over a number of years.
Bernadette’s body has never been found. Scott Walker is alleged to have murdered the teenager - a charge he denies. He also faces charges of perverting the course of justice. Bernadette’s mum, Sarah Walker, also faces charges of perverting the course of justice.
Today (Tuesday) Cambridge Crown Court heard from PC Elizabeth Aspland, who spoke to Scott Walker on a number of occasions after Bernadette was reported missing.
PC Aspland said she made her first visit to the family home at Century Square in Peterborough on July 23, to carry out a search of Bernadette’s bedroom.
The officer said that while she was searching the room, Scott Walker was also in the room.
PC Aspland said that during the search, Scott Walker became upset and tearful.
Lisa Wilding QC, prosecuting, asked why he had become upset.
PC Aspland said: “He was upset about his relationship with Sarah (Bernadette’s mum), because she was seeing another man.
“Scott said he was concerned as this other man had more to offer.”
PC Aspland said he had meant the other man - Chris O’Connell, who has already given evidence to the jury - had more to offer materially.
The officer was asked if there had been a discussion about the sexual abuse allegations made by Bernadette.
She said: “Yes, very briefly. He said allegations had been made, but did not go into detail.”
She said that he added that he believed Bernadette made them up to get him (Scott Walker) out of the house and allow Chris to move in.
She added: “He (Scott Walker) said it was likely Bernadette would be embarrassed having made false allegations against him.”
PC Aspland said on September 8 she visited the home of Chris O’Connell and the home of Bill and Julie Walker, Bernadette’s grandparents. Mr O’Connell showed PC Aspland text messages dated July 18 from Bernadette’s phone.
She told the jury Bernadette’s grandparents said that on the evening of July 17 Bernadette had remained upset during the evening, and had told them ‘I’m not lying.’
Her grandparents also said she had not appeared to use a mobile phone while she was at their home.
The following day, on September 9, PC Aspland returned to Century Square.
She said that it had been decided that both Scott and Sarah Walker should be spoken to separately to establish details of her disappearance - and in particular if Bernadette had her phone on her when she went missing.
PC Aspland said at the time she thought Bernadette did have her mobile phone on her.
The officer turned up at Century Square with colleague PC Williams. She said Scott Walker was in, but Sarah Walker was out at the time.
The court was told the officers spoke to Scott Walker in the living room.
PC Aspland said: “He was very run down. I would describe him as a man on the edge. He seemed as though he was at breaking point.”
While she was at the home, Scott Walker was asked to give his account as to what happened when Bernadette disappeared.
PC Aspland said: “He said after picking Bernadette up, he wanted to go to McDonalds, but she didn’t want anything, so they headed for home.”
PC Aspland said Scott Walker also said he wanted to confront Bernadette over the allegations, so he pulled over to the side of the road by a grass verge to roll a cigarette.
He said he had asked her why she was making the allegations, but she had said: “I don’t want to talk about it,’ and then she had walked away.
He told PC Aspland he had tried to call her back, but she kept on walking, and disappeared down an alleyway.
When asked if he could say where this had happened, PC Aspland said Scott Walker had replied: “His first response was that he couldn’t specifically remember as he had a lot going on in his mind at the time.”
She said he was able to draw a map of the area - with a windy road, grass verges, houses on the left hand side and an alley way near by - but was not able to point out on a map on PC Aspland’s phone where it was.
PC Aspland said he was ‘agitated in general.’
He was also asked whether Bernadette had her phone on her. PC Aspland said he had told her that he didn’t see a phone on her, but that it may have been in her pocket or in her bra.
Scott Walker (51) of Century Square, Peterborough denies murder and four counts of perverting the course of justice.
Sarah Walker (38) 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.