Dambusters thief convicted
A military historian who stole a treasured log book from the widow of an RAF airman who was in the Dambusters squadron more than 20 years ago has finally been found guilty.
Alexander Bateman, 48, was found guilty of theft at London’s Wood Green Crown Court.
The log book, which belonged to the late Sergeant John Fraser, has never been found and Bateman has refused to reveal what happened to it.
He contacted the victim in 1996 while researching the airmen involved in the Dambusters RAF squadron.
She agreed to send him her husband’s log book to help with his research.
Several years later, Bateman contacted the victim’s daughter, who was unaware he had been loaned the log book.
After learning Bateman had it, she asked for it to be returned in January 2003, but an envelope arrived from Bateman which had been cut open. There was no log book inside.
He initially claimed the book must have been lost, but then said he had got it back from the Post Office.
His story then changed again and he claimed he had been gifted the book without condition.
He later produced a Christmas card he claimed was from the victim, which had a note written inside apparently confirming his story of ownership.
In 2003, Bateman claimed he was burgled and the log book had been stolen.
The family reported the matter to police last year and analysis of the writing in the Christmas card concluded that it was not written by the victim.
Bateman, from Harrow, West London, is due to be sentenced on February 3.