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Missing teen ‘murdered by father to cover up sexual abuse’

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A 17-year-old girl was murdered by her father to stop her repeating claims he sexually abused her, a court has heard.

The parents of Bernadette Walker, 17, from Peterborough, then used her phone in an attempt to pretend to be her and said she had run away to misdirect investigators, it was further alleged.

The teenager was last seen alive on 18 July 2020 when her father Scott Walker, 51, collected her in the car from his parents’ house in Peterborough where she had stayed overnight, Cambridge Crown Court was told.

Her father’s phone was then switched off for 91 minutes, during which time Walker claims she got out of the car and ran away.

But she has not been seen or heard from since.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Lisa Wilding QC said Bernadette’s father and mother, 38-year-old Sarah Walker, established an “unholy alliance” in a phone call on the day she went missing, in an attempt to prevent authorities knowing about her death.

Bernadette was not reported missing to police by her mother until 21 July, the prosecution said. Her body has never been found.

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Ms Wilding said the teenager was described by friends as “something of a goth” and “socially awkward”, with many of her friendships online.

Known as “Bea”, Bernadette wore glasses and had a habit of dying her hair in rainbow colours, the prosecuting QC told the court.

It was on 16 July, the prosecution said, that Bernadette told her mother that Scott Walker “had been sexually abusing her over a number of years” in a conversation that went on “into the following morning”.

But Ms Wilding said: “Sarah Walker told Bernadette that she did not believe her.

“The following day, it was decided that Bernadette should go and spend the night with her paternal grandparents while things calmed down a little.”

Bernadette was dropped off by her father at her grandparents’ house on the evening of 17 July and was collected by Scott Walker between 10am and 11am the next day, Ms Wilding said.

Bernadette Walker
Image: Bernadette, known as ‘Bea’, had a habit of dying her hair in rainbow colours, a court was told

She added that Walker’s telephone did not connect to a network from 11.23am on that day until 12.54pm.

It is during that time, the prosecution said, that he killed Bernadette.

The first call he made after his phone reconnected to a network at 12.54pm lasted for more than nine minutes and was to Sarah Walker, Ms Wilding said.

The couple used the call to concoct a story that they relied on from that moment, Ms Wilding added.

The QC said Walker claimed “that Scott had stopped the car on the short drive home to confront Bea about her allegations, that Bea jumped out of the car when he pulled over and that she ran off.”

Ms Wilding added: “Then, that Scott tried and failed to run after her and so returned home without her.”

She said that, despite the prosecution’s allegations, neither of her parents accepts Bernadette is dead.

“Since the day she disappeared… no-one who knew her or loved her has heard from her,” the prosecuting QC added.

“She is presumed dead and, as you will come to hear, it’s likely that her body was disposed of, probably in the countryside in the hours that followed her killing.

“The prosecution allege that Scott Walker killed Bea to prevent her pursuing her allegations of sexual abuse any further.

“He then enlisted the help of her mother, his wife, to cover his tracks and to provide them both with some time to formulate the next part of their plan.”

“From that moment on, Scott and Sarah Walker – Bea’s own mother and father – were joined, the prosecution say, in an unholy alliance, designed and intended to mislead, to divert and to pervert the inevitable investigation into the disappearance and ultimately the death of Bea Walker.

“In the minutes, hours and days that followed, Scott and Sarah Walker hacked into Bea’s social media accounts, sent false messages from her telephone which was still in their possession, pretending to be from her to her friends and family, and which were designed to lay a false trail to explain their subsequent failure to report her missing to the police.

“They lied to everyone around them… All parental love and responsibility was gone, if ever it actually existed.”

Both were arrested about a month and a half later, Ms Wilding said.

Scott Walker denies the murder of Bernadette on or after 18 July last year and four counts of perverting the course of justice.

Sarah Walker denies two counts of perverting the course of justice.

The trial continues.