Child sexual assault suspect’s Chennai link - Ramya Kannan, The Hindu
British Airways pilot Bartle Frere, arrested in Britain on charges of child sexual assault, has told a court there that he spent time in the fishing village of Nochikuppam in the city, where “he took an interest in children and they took an interest in me.”
The Daily Mail has reported his deposition in Bournemouth Crown Court, but Chennai Police still claim they have no information on this case whatsoever.
He reportedly said he found India a fascinating place and would regularly take monthly British Airways flights to Chennai and spend time with the people of Nochikuppam.
According to the Daily Mail, Frere said he, “became friends with village families because of his ‘passion’ for photography — taking pictures of both children and adults.”
He reportedly bought them gifts, including expensive ones like iPhones and sports equipment, and claimed he regularly spent up to 200 pounds on them during a trip.
“If I was there for several days, I might spend a couple of hundred pounds, maybe less. I am in a position of being very well-paid and don’t have to support a family — it’s money I can afford.”
Frere, who is denying charges of indecent assault on children and paedophilia, claims: “They were asking for money, which I didn't like giving… For the cost of me eating in the crew hotel, I found I could feed about a dozen children in a local restaurant.”
As part of the trial, the Daily Mail reports, the jury was also shown a film Frere had made during one of his trips to Nochikuppam. The video was of a boat trip he took with local boys and adults. “The film, which had the Bollywood soundtrack ‘Crazy Kiya Re’ accompanying it, showed boys jumping from the boat into the sea and playing with a bodyboard Frere had brought from the U.K for them.
The Dorset Echo reports that he told the jury that the “indecent photos of Indian boys on his iPhone had been taken by the boys during one of his overnight stays in Chennai as part of his job with British Airways and he had deleted them when found them, but didn’t realise they got automatically transferred to his computer.”
The BBC reported on Frere’s links with boys in Bangalore, earlier. The Telegraph, UK, earlier reported from the court that he had made a reservation under the name John Smith (a name residents in Chennai know him by).
Christine Beddoe, former director of End Child Prostitution, Child ***** and Trafficking (ECPAT) U.K., said that Frere had told the jury that his saying ‘I love you’ to the boys and calling them ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexy’ in messages, was because it was a ‘cultural thing’ to say in India.
From initial trial reporting, she said it seemed to her that the Crown Prosecution Service has no intention of putting any Indian victim/witness on the stand.
“For the India-related offences they are only running with the offence of facilitating sexual abuse; this has a lower threshold and does not rely on victim testimony,” she said.
Frere was arrested in November 2013.
He has since denied a total of 25 sex abuse charges slapped on him, claiming that he was asexual.
Among the offences laid at his door are five offences of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex abuse offence, which relates to his alleged conduct with boys in India, the newspaper has reported.