A man has been found guilty of murdering his stepdaughter after she made sexual abuse allegations against him, despite her body never being found after extensive searches, including in Lincolnshire.
Scott Walker was found guilty of killing 17-year-old Bernadette Walker after a six-week trial at Cambridge Crown Court, and Bernadette’s mother Sarah was found guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice.
It is still not known where Bernadette, or Bea as she was known, was killed, but her last confirmed sighting was when Scott picked her up from his parents’ home in Werrington, Peterborough on Saturday, July 18, 2020.
She was at Scott’s parents after allegations she had made the previous day against him, in which she accused the man she called “dad” of sexual abuse, though he wasn’t her biological father.
Scott and his former partner Sarah, Bernadette’s mother, deceived friends, family and the police force by laying false trails to suggest that Bea was actually still alive and had run away from home.
The jury was told that Bea’s mother had not reported her missing to police until July 21, three days after her last confirmed sighting.
Scott claimed he stopped the car on their way back from his parents’ home to speak about the allegations made by Bernadette, but she got out the car and ran away down Skaters Way, leaving her rucksack behind.
Despite this claim, police discovered that Scott had not been to collect Bernadette from his parents house straight away the morning after the allegations.
He had instead gone to a lock-up garage owned by his parents in Walton, and it was not the only time he visited this location in the days after Bea was reported missing.
Scott’s mobile phone activated cell sites in the Dogsthorpe and Gunthorpe areas, both in the opposite direction, and at just before 11.30am it disconnected from the network and didn’t reconnect for an hour-and-a-half.
After reconnecting his phone, Scott’s first call was to Bea’s mother Sarah, whom he called for nine minutes.
In the 48 hours following this phone call, both Scott and Sarah made multiple trips to the lock-up in Walton, as well as in a rural area of Cowbit, Lincolnshire, in the night.
Bea’s social media accounts had their passwords changed and messages were sent to friends and family to make it look as though she’d run away from home.
Sarah Walker had previously admitted to perverting the course of justice by sending messages from Bea’s phone and providing false information to police, but claimed to not know that Bea was dead.
Now she has been found guilty of the same charge, only this time admitted the knowledge of Bernadette being dead with the intention to cover up sexual allegations against Scott.
The sexual abuse allegations were passed on to police by a social worker on July 22.
Then on September 10, Scott was arrested for the sexual abuse allegation and reports of coercively controlling Sarah, before a murder enquiry was launched the day after.
Police investigated the lock-up and found Bea’s rucksack in it, which had a diary inside with harrowing extracts discussing her treatment after telling her parents about the abuse.
It read: “Told my mum and dad about the abuse. She called me a liar and threatened to kill me if I told the police. What kind of parent wouldn’t believe their daughter?”
Despite extensive searches across the country from specially trained officers, Bea’s whereabouts remain a mystery to this day.
Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins, from the Beds, Cambs and Herts Major Crime Unit, said: “I am pleased we have been able to get justice for Bea after what has been such tragic circumstances.
“I just hope now we may get the answers we need to be able to find her and lay her to rest. If anyone has any information about this investigation which may help us find Bea, please get in touch.
“We may never know the truth about what Scott did and why, but we do know Bea had made allegations of abuse against him.
“My plea to anyone who may have been subjected to abuse is to speak to us. Bea thought she could confide in her own mother, who should have been able to protect her, but instead she met a tragic end.”
Both Scott and Sarah Walker will be sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on September 10.
Anyone with information that may help uncover Bernadette Walker’s whereabouts should be reported to Cambridgeshire Police either online or by calling 101.