Former tour operator sentenced to nearly a decade in jail for child sex offences after nine years on the run

Former tour operator sentenced to nearly a decade in jail for child sex offences after nine years on the run

A once well-known figure of Broome’s tourism scene has been sentenced to nine years in jail after pleading guilty to more than 30 child sex offences.

Charles Batham had been on the run for almost a decade before an ABC News investigation led to his arrest in Italy during March last year.

In 2011, the 77-year-old Englishman was charged with 31 offences relating to the sexual abuse of two girls in Western Australia’s Kimberly, committed between 2006 and 2011 while he was running a business that flew tourists on an ultralight plane over Cable Beach called Broome Trike Flights.

Batham was living in an aeroplane hanger near Broome International Airport where he offered to babysit two girls in a converted double-decker bus he kept at the hanger, according to an account of the sentencing from ABC News.

The court heard that hundreds of child exploitation images were found at the hanger.

His victims, who were aged between eight and 12 at the time, told the court they were still living in fear because of his actions.

One said it had led to an ongoing fear that her own children would be molested and the other said she would still fear him even when he is in jail.

“I’m worried he might break out and stalk me,” she said, according to the ABC News report.

Image source: WA Police via Facebook

Judge Lisa Tovey rejected claims Batham’s behaviour was “out of character”, and said his offending was sustained and not “a short-term lapse of judgement”.

“You chose to flee the country rather than face the consequences of your actions, in my view,” Tovey said.

“The only person whose fault this is, is you. The only person who should feel ashamed is you.”

Batham said “absolutely” in response.

The ABC News investigation that led police in Italy to arrest Batham revealed he obtained a British passport under the name Charles Edwin Shannon and was moving around Europe with ease.

Broome tourism operator Robyn Maher told ABC News she had known Batham when she worked for the Broome Visitors Centre, and described him as a “creepy” and unpleasant person.

“I didn’t like the thought of him getting away with it, travelling overseas and not facing justice for the victims,” Maher said.

“I think it’s a good outcome.”

Featured image source: ABC News

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