Bernadette Walker: Man jailed for life with 32-year minimum sentence for murdering step-daughter after she accused him of sexual abuse

A man who murdered his teenage step-daughter after she claimed he had sexually abused her has been sentenced to life in prison and must serve 32 years before he can be considered for release.

Scott Walker, 51, has refused to tell police the location of 17-year-old Bernadette Walker's body, which has not been found despite searches. It is also not known how she was killed.

Judge Mrs Justice McGowan, sentencing at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday, said that refusal "means she can't be shown the respect she deserves".

She said: "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 someday come back into their lives."

Bernadette, a photography student, was last seen alive on 18 July last year when Mr Walker collected her from his parents' house in Peterborough.

Prosecutors said Walker killed the teenager to "prevent her pursuing her allegations of sexual abuse any further".

Lisa Wilding QC, prosecuting, said that Walker formed an "unholy alliance" with Bernadette's mother - his former partner Sarah Walker - to cover up the girl's death, sending messages from Bernadette's phone to give the impression she was still alive.

Mrs Walker, 38, was convicted of perverting the course of justice and jailed for six years.

Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire major crime unit, said: "I still hope 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."

Mrs Walker was not married to Mr Walker, but changed her name by deed poll, and was in a relationship with another man at the time.

Mr Walker told the court that Bernadette's allegations of sexual abuse were "untrue".

In her diary, Bernadette had written: "Told my mum about my dad and the abuse.

"She called me a liar and threatened to kill me if I told the police."

The prosecution said that Bernadette was sent to stay with Mr Walker's parents overnight on 17 July "while things calmed down a little" - but she did not take her phone with her.

She was last seen alive the morning after.

Before he went to his parent's house, Mr Walker visited a lock-up garage owned by his family.

Mr Walker said Bernadette ran away from the car when he stopped, but the jury at Cambridge Crown Court rejected this.

The prosecution said that Mr Walker's phone "which was in regular use" was turned off between 11.23am and 12.54pm that day - and that is when Mr Walker killed Bernadette.

When the phone reconnected, the first action was a call to Mrs Walker, which lasted for nine minutes.

The jury was told the couple "concocted" a story during this conversation to cover up the disappearance and death of Mrs Walker's child.

The pair returned to the lock-ups several times over the course of the couple of days, and also visited a rural part of Lincolnshire called Cowbit. It was at the lock-up that Bernadette's diary was found.

During this time, the teenager's social media accounts had their passwords changed, and messages were sent to her friends to make it look like she had run away.

Mrs Walker reported the 17-year-old missing on 21 July.

She was convicted after it was found she had sent messages from Bernadette's phone after she disappeared, and gave false information to the police.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting