Cult boy Bobby tried to recruit 12-year-old best friend

Daily Express/ July 28, 2000
By Cyril Dixon

MISSING teenager Bobby Kelly was found safe and well yesterday as it emerged that he tried to recruit his 12-year-old best friend to join the cult he ran away with.

The 16-year-old was discovered living with two Jesus Christians in a tent after an investigation by Scotland Yard's kidnap squad. Police swooped on the trio yesterday morning as they were hiding deep in a forest on the Hampshire-Surrey border.

The two men were arrested and Bobby was driven to an emergency private hearing at the High Court in London to decide his future. But even as he was taken away, new details surfaced of how deeply he had embraced the cult's ideas.

Bobby, who ran away from home in Romford, Essex, last month, tried to persuade his friend, John Moyes, to follow him. In a letter, he quoted the Bible urging John to "give his life to God". He also asked the younger boy to hide the note in case it helped police find him.

Bobby defended the cult, described his life as a fugitive from the police and talked of fleeing the country. The letter added: "Despite what you hear in the papers, just believe me that the Jesus Christians are not an evil cult.

"I'm not getting brainwashed. I hope we are still mates. You might think that I'm enjoying the attention but to be honest I really don't like it. I just want to get on with working for God." The letter, posted on July 19 in Farnborough, close to where the teenager was found, went on: "I'm in hiding now and I can't tell you where, as the police might get this letter but it has many trees and overall is a nice place.

"I'm getting a bit frustrated that I can't move places. If we do, the police might spot me. "Keep this to yourself - remember the main reason why I am doing this is because of Luke, 14.33." The Bible passage says you must give everything to God. Bobby continued: "I won't be leaving the country, at least for the next couple of years, so I hope I can see you." Yesterday, John's mother Paula, 31, also from Romford, said of Bobby's note about the cult: "He introduced them to John. They were trying to sell it to him."

She revealed that Bobby had also telephoned, and her son pointed out that he could not join the cult because of his age. However, another cult member, intervened in the conversation and said: "You can be any age." Bobby, who was made a ward of court last month after disappearing with the Jesus Christians, was found at Mytchett, Surrey. The party had moved into the woods two days ago after spending 10 days at a nearby public campsite. Susie Porter, who runs the site's visitor centre, told yesterday how police had been searching the area since calling her on Tuesday. She said: "Six plainclothes officers turned up here in three cars and went off into the woods. About 10.30am they came back and said that they had got the people they were looking for."

Aircraft engineer Keith Sands, 46, of Littlestoke, Bristol, said the trio had stood out from the other campers. "I noticed one of them looked a lot younger than the other two. He looked like a teenager. One evening I saw them sitting round a fire and thought there was something strange about it. Whereas most people having a barbecue would have a drink and a laugh these three were very quiet." Last night, the boy's family released a statement saying: "The family is extremely pleased and relieved that Bobby has been found. "We are confident that the decision the court will now make for his future will be in his best interests and will take account of his position." He had been made a ward of court last month after his grandmother Ruth Kelly, 58, raised concerns about his links with cult members. The ruling meant Official Solicitor Lawrence Oates was his legal guardian and anybody who knew his whereabouts must tell the court or face contempt charges.

Two cult members, married couple Sue and Roland Gianstefani, who refused to divulge Bobby's whereabouts, were yesterday spared jail after the teenager made an impassioned plea on their behalf. In a statement passed to the High Court judge, Bobby, who was elsewhere in the court building, defended the pair by saying they tried to shield him from anti-cult campaigner Graham Baldwin. Bobby said in the statement: "I hope that they didn't get into trouble. I recognise that it was noble. They didn't want Graham Baldwin to get his hands on me. They were willing to go to prison for me."

The Gianstefanis received a six-week jail sentence, suspended for a year.

Afterwards, Mr Baldwin said: "They have put words into his mouth. I have never spoken to Bobby and I have never spoken to the Jesus Christians."The two men arrested yesterday will be dealt with by a High Court judge, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

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