A murder trial has heard a businessman accused of murdering his estranged wife was making routine deliveries on the day she disappeared.
Fruit and vegetable wholesaler Nat Fraser was with an employee on his rounds the whole time his wife Arlene was last seen 14 years ago, a court heard.
Jurors were told on Tuesday that Fraser was never out of sight for longer than a few minutes on the day.
The High Court in Edinburgh also heard that Fraser said his wife would be well off if they got a divorce and claimed she was "wanting more than half of everything".
Fraser, 53, denies acting with others to murder Arlene, who was 33 when she vanished from her home in New Elgin, Moray on April 28, 1998.
Forklift driver Grant Fraser, 32, from Elgin, who is not related to the accused, told the court that in the early part of 1998 he worked for a fruit and vegetable wholesale business part-owned by Fraser. He was Fraser's "lorry boy" and had known him most of his life.
On that Tuesday, the witness told how he began work after 7am, loading up his lorry in preparation for making deliveries to local businesses.
He said he then visited several service stations, shops and restaurants in Elgin during the course of the morning, accompanied by Fraser. Later he made deliveries in the Fochabers and Keith areas.
Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked: "Through the whole process was Mr Fraser in your company?"
He said he was adding: "Should we understand that if he was out of your sight it would only be for minutes. Otherwise, he was there continuously?"
Mr Fraser agreed. He also told how the accused made a telephone call from a phonebox, during one of the morning stops, to a woman named Hazel.
Fraser has lodged a special defence of alibi, saying he left the address where he was staying in Burnside Road, Lhanbryde, on April 28 at about 7.30am and spent the day making deliveries to shops and hotels in the area.
In other evidence, Hazel Walker later told how she would receive calls on an almost daily basis from Fraser in April that year after she got talking to him at a local hotel. They spoke on the day his wife disappeared but he never rang her again after that, the court heard.
The trial heard that Mrs Walker told police in a statement the following month: "Nat has told me that if he and his wife got divorced she will be well off. He also said that she was wanting more than half of everything."
Mrs Walker said she could not remember making the comments but agreed she would have told police the truth.
The trial also heard how police conducted a "massive" search to try to find Mrs Fraser's remains. The operation in the wake of Arlene Fraser's disappearance left "no stone unturned" and ranked alongside the biggest inquiries ever carried out by Grampian Police, Superintendent Mark Cooper told the court.
Despite the extensive search, no trace of the missing mother-of-two was found. The trial was adjourned after judge Lord Bracadale addressed the jury in relation to Mrs Stewart's evidence.
He told the eight women and seven men that in the course of Mrs Stewart's evidence she made reference to the accused's past. "You should ignore that reference completely," he told them.
"Whatever she was talking about has no bearing on the matter before you and accordingly you should put that reference out of your mind completely."
The trial, before Lord Bracadale, continues on Wednesday.
More About Nat Fraser
- Farmer denies visiting Arlene Fraser the day she disappeared
- Farmer tried to hang himself after being accused of Arlene Fraser's murder
- Nat Fraser trial: Farmer was secretly recorded in police sting operation