September 2021

Stepdad jailed for murdering teen over abuse claim

A man who murdered the teenage girl who called him dad amid claims of sexual assault has been jailed for life and her mother has been jailed for six years for trying to cover it up

Bernadette Walker, 17, told her mother that Scott Walker, 51, had been abusing her “over a number of years”.

Bernadette, from Peterborough, disappeared days later in July 2020, and is presumed dead as her body has never been found.

During sentencing at Cambridge Crown Court, Scott Walker was told he must serve a minimum of 32 years in jail.

Bernadette’s mother has been jailed for six years after being found guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice “knowing or believing” Bernadette to be dead, having already admitted two counts of perverting the course of justice.

Scott Walker was found guilty of murder and perverting the course of justice at the same trial.

Judge Mrs Justice McGowan said his refusal to tell police where Bernadette’s body was “means she can’t be shown the respect she deserves”.

Bernadette was last seen when Scott Walker, who was not her biological father, collected her from his parents’ home in Peterborough on 18 July last year.

The trial heard he and Sarah Walker, who were still living together despite being separated, formed an “unholy alliance” to cover up her death.

Prosecutor Lisa Wilding QC said on 16 July last year, Bernadette, also known as Bee, told her mother that Scott Walker “had been sexually abusing her over a number of years”.

“Sarah Walker told Bernadette that she did not believe her,” said Ms Wilding.

The trial heard Bernadette had written in a diary: “Told my mum about my dad and 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?”

The court heard Sarah Walker sent messages from Bernadette’s phone to give the impression she was still alive after she disappeared.

She and Scott Walker “hacked” into Bernadette’s social media accounts and posted messages purporting to be from her.

The judge said Sarah Walker “was the guiding mind behind the detail of [the] plan” to cover up Bernadette’s death.

Scott Walker told jurors Bernadette’s allegations of sexual abuse were “untrue”.

After telling her mother about the alleged abuse, Bernadette was sent to stay with Scott Walker’s parents.

When he collected Bernadette, his phone was switched off between 11:23 and 12:54 BST, the court heard.

Prosecutors said it was during these 91 minutes that he killed his stepdaughter.

When his phone reconnected to the network, the first call he made was to Sarah Walker, which lasted nine minutes.

The pair “concocted” a story during this time to cover up her death, the prosecution said.