A man convicted of murdering 17-year-old Bernadette Walker, who went missing in July last year and whose body has never been found, has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 32 years.
Scott Walker, 51, was found guilty of murdering Bernadette, who called him her father although they were not biologically related, in July.
Bernadette’s mother, Sarah Walker, 38, was convicted of perverting the course of justice and sentenced to six years in prison.
In the days before her death, Bernadette told her mother that Scott Walker had been sexually abusing her “over a number of years”, and the prosecution argued he killed her to “prevent her pursuing her allegations of sexual abuse any further”.
Scott Walker has never revealed what happened to Bernadette or where her body is. Unsuccessful police searches have been carried out in the countryside around Peterborough, using drones, police divers and sniffer dogs.
At the sentencing at Cambridge crown court on Friday, Mrs Justice McGowan said Scott Walker’s refusal to cooperate with police meant Bernadette “can’t be shown the respect she deserves”.
“Cruellest of all, it’s likely to mean some members of her family and friends will go on hoping she might be alive and might some day come back into their lives,” she said.
She added that Sarah Walker “was the guiding mind behind the detail of [the] plan” to cover up Bernadette’s death, and that “each defendant was a willing party in that enterprise”.
The court heard how Bernadette was last seen alive on 18 July 2020, when Scott Walker picked her up from his parents’ house where she had spent the night. His mobile phone was switched off between 11.23am and 12.54pm, which is when the prosecution allege the murder took place, although they said there was no way of knowing exactly what happened to Bernadette.
Scott Walker claimed Bernadette jumped out the car and ran away when he pulled over, but there has been no trace of the teenager since.
In a diary entry in the days before her death, Bernadette wrote that her mother “called me a liar and threatened to kill me if I told the police” after she said Scott Walker had sexually abused her, including hiding cameras in the bathroom of the family home.
Scott Walker denied the allegations of sexual abuse, and claimed the cameras were used to try and catch Bernadette hiding sweet wrappers.
Lisa Wilding QC, prosecuting, said Scott and Sarah Walker, his ex-partner, formed an “unholy alliance” to cover up Bernadette’s death, sending messages from her phone to give the impression she was still alive.
The two were no longer in a relationship at the time but were still living in the same home.
Cambridgeshire police said they hoped Scott Walker would reveal the location of Bernadette’s body after his conviction but he has so far refused to speak. A number of Bernadette’s friends, including her brother, continue the search in the hope she may be found.