Alexander Bateman, 48, is a military historian who was jailed for stealing a logbook from the widow of an RAF airman who had been a member of the Dambusters squadron.
Bateman was sentenced to two years in jail last week at Wood Green Crown Court. The court was told that Bateman, who had been found guilty of theft after a trial in January, had lied multiple times when asked to return the loaned logbook, worth £10,000.
The logbook originally belonged to Sgt. John Fraser. It has not been found since Bateman borrowed it and refused to tell the authorities what had happened to it.
Fraser’s daughter, Shere Lowe, flew to England from Washington to speak in court.
Judge John Dodd QC did the sentencing. He said that he considered Bateman’s crime to be a despicable offense, abusing the trust of the widow of a war hero.
Doris Fraser, 92, is the widow of Sgt. John Fraser. She sent the logbook to Bateman after he reached out to her in 1996. He said he wanted to use it in his research on airmen who served in the Dambusters RAF squadron.
Several years later he reached out to Doris’ daughter, Shere Lowe, who did not know that the logbook had already been loaned to Bateman.
Shere asked for him to return it in January 2003. She had never seen the logbook herself. When she received an envelope from Bateman, it had been cut open at the bottom.
Lowe said that her mother became physically ill when she found out that the logbook was missing.
He first said that the logbook had been lost but then claimed he had retrieved it from the Post Office. Bateman then produced a Christmas card which he said proved that he had been given the logbook by Mrs. Fraser.
When he was told in 2003 that a report on the logbook would be in the national press, he reported a burglary at his home and claimed that the logbook had been stolen.
Lowe said she had wanted to hold a piece of her father’s history in her own hands, but she was relieved that justice had been served. She said that Bateman’s deception and lies had weighed on the family, Mail Online reported.
As well as the theft, Bateman was charged with a number of other serious offences.
Lowe said that the logbook was more than a historical artifact. To their family, the logbook was “an integral part of our family’s history.”
She urged anyone with information on the whereabouts of the log book.