A man accused of murdering his estranged wife said their children would soon forget their mother days after she disappeared, a court has heard.
Arlene Fraser's father said Nat Fraser seemed agitated at the time and also spoke of something costing him £5000.
Fruit and vegetable wholesaler Fraser was also calm, collected and "not fussed" two days after the mother of two vanished 14 years ago, the High Court in Edinburgh heard on Monday.
Fraser, 53, denies acting with others to murder Mrs Fraser. He has entered special defences of alibi and incrimination. Mrs Fraser disappeared on Tuesday April 28, 1998 aged 33.
The trial, now in its fourth week, has heard family members gathered at Mrs Fraser's home in Smith Street, New Elgin, Moray in the days after she went missing.
Her father Hector McInnes, now 71, arrived in New Elgin on Thursday April 30 after driving up from his home in Lancashire.
The retired aircraft fitter, now from Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, said that when he saw Fraser that day he was "just the usual: calm, collected, not fussed".
Mr McInnes, who divorced Mrs Fraser's mother in 1974 and has since remarried, also described an encounter he had with Fraser in the kitchen of the New Elgin house on Thursday May 7 that year, nine days after his daughter's disappearance.
He said of Fraser: "He sat down on the chair with his back to the patio door, facing me. I thought he was a wee bit agitated. He just mentioned that something was going to cost him a sum of money. I thought he said £5000. And then he said the bairns would soon forget their mother."
Mr McInnes said he assumed the money reference was about the cost of the possible divorce between Fraser and his wife.
Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC said: "At that point Arlene Fraser was still missing and police were doing their best to find her, as indeed was everybody else.
"Had anyone expressed a definitive, clear view to you, police or anyone that Arlene Fraser was, as a matter of fact, dead?"
Mr McInnes replied: "No."
He said he left the kitchen after Fraser made the comment. He told the court: "I had other things on my mind."
The conversation happened on the same day three of Mrs Fraser's rings were found in her house, jurors were told.
The court has heard how her engagement, wedding and eternity rings were discovered on a peg in the bathroom by Mr McInnes's wife Catherine, just over a week after the disappearance.
Mr McInnes told the jury he had been in the bathroom frequently and had not seen the rings there before that day.
The witness also recalled a conversation he had with police investigating his daughter's disappearance regarding their use of a helicopter with heat-seeking equipment.
Fraser was present and was "straight in asking questions, the third degree", Mr McInnes told jurors.
He said: "He was just absorbing all the knowledge he could from what the FLO (family liaison officer) was saying."
Bill Thompson, 67, who is married to Mrs Fraser's mother Isabelle, recalled that the police were contacted when the rings were discovered.
He said: "We were all shocked because we hadn't seen them. None of us had seen the rings. We were quite surprised. How come we'd never seen them anywhere?"
The witness said Fraser was in the house on day the rings were discovered.
Mr Thompson, a retired lorry driver from Motherwell, also told how he spoke to Fraser about his wife's disappearance.
"I just asked him if he had anything to do with Arlene being away," he said, recalling an exchange days after she went missing.
"He said no. He said, 'I loved her'."
Mr Prentice questioned whether Fraser had used the word "loved" in the past tense.
He said: "I'm not sure, to tell you the truth."
Mr Thompson agreed with defence QC John Scott that the discovery of the rings was not initially seen as hugely significant. It was as time went on that they acquired more significance, going on to become the "cornerstone" of a 2003 trial over Mrs Fraser's alleged murder, the court heard.
More About Arlene Fraser
- Nat Fraser to challenge second conviction for murdering his wife
- Arlene Fraser's family 'moving on' 14 years after she disappeared
- Timeline of a killer: Events leading to Nat Fraser's conviction for murder
- Nat Fraser murdered his wife Arlene as she prepared for divorce
- Nat Fraser guilty of murdering estranged wife Arlene 14 years ago
- Jury in Nat Fraser murder trial continues deliberations for second day
- Jury retires for the night in trial of man accused of killing his wife
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