Flt Sgt John Fraser is second from the left in the back row in this photograph taken while he was serving in 50 Squadron. Next to him, third from left, is fellow Canadian Ken Earnshaw, who went with him to 617 Squadron. Earnshaw also joined John Hopgood’s crew, and died on the Dams Raid. His logbook was allegedly stolen from Alex Bateman’s house in June 2003, at the same time as that of John Fraser.
On the third day of his trial for the theft of a logbook belonging to Doris Fraser, the widow of Dams Raid bomb aimer Flt Sgt John Fraser, Alex Bateman has repeatedly claimed that he felt ‘intimidated’ by her daughter, Ms Shere Fraser Lowe.
He had posted a padded envelope containing the logbook and a tape cassette, which attached to a piece of card, to Ms Fraser Lowe’s address in Canada. When it arrived the package had a slit in the bottom, and the logbook was missing.
He claimed that he then located the logbook in his local sorting office, and told Ms Fraser Lowe in an email. Ms Fraser Lowe and her mother then offered to make a special trip to London in order to retrieve the logbook, but Bateman then asked Ms Fraser Lowe to stop contacting him.
Bateman told prosecuting counsel Max Hardy: ‘I started to get suspicious that Doris Fraser had no knowledge of what her daughter was doing. I wanted to hear from Doris that she knew what was happening. Shere Fraser Lowe was fixated on the logbook, and we had already agreed that we would meet in May’ [in order to hand it over].
‘I had another issue going on in my life, and her calls were quite incessant,’ he added. ‘Then she said she would fly over specially to collect it. I felt that was a strange way of doing things.’
Hardy then asked Bateman about the posting of the envelope. He claimed that it had been posted in Harrow between 5 and 8 February, but could not explain why the postmark was that of Greenford Mail Centre on 12 February. ‘I have never been to Greenford,’ he said. The envelope was reused, but to secure it he had used staples and parcel tape. It was undamaged when he posted it, he added.
When Ms Fraser Lowe told him that the logbook was missing, he made enquiries in the Harrow postal sorting office. He was told that it had been found but he had no records of any communication with the sorting office, other than that he may have signed some sort of receipt.
Asked today by Hardy if he had a copy of the logbook, Bateman said he did. ‘Could you collect this copy from your home?’ Hardy asked. Bateman answered, ‘Yes’. Hardy pointed out that he had been asked before if he had a copy, and he had said no.
Hardy then asked about the Christmas card which Bateman had claimed had been sent to him by Doris Fraser in 1996. [Forensic expert Nicola Thomas had examined the writing and her statement had been read out on the previous day.] ‘Did you write that card?’ he asked. Bateman replied, ‘No, I didn’t.’ ‘You know that the writing has been subject to expert analysis?’ he was asked. ‘If that card was not written by Doris Fraser, can you suggest who might have written it?’ Bateman said that he could not.
Earlier Bateman had been asked by the judge, Judge John Dodd QC, why if the logbook was at his home in May, he did not return it to the family when they were in the UK. ‘I took advice from my solicitor,’ Bateman replied, ‘and I can’t remember why not.’
The judge made a further intervention at the close of cross-examination by prosecuting counsel. He returned to the subject of a photocopy of the logbook, and asked Bateman again if he was now saying that he did have one. Bateman said that he might have it. All his possessions were currently in storage, he explained.
The judge then adjourned the case until the morning, to allow him time to retrieve the item and bring it to court.
The case continues.