January 2016

Maoist cult leader jailed for 23 years for imprisoning own daughter 3 decades

Aravindan-Balakrishnan

A Maoist cult leader who kept his daughter as a slave in a commune for 30 years and raped his brainwashed followers has been jailed for 23 years.

Aravindan Balakrishnan, from Enfield, London, was handed the sentence this afternoon at Southwark Crown Court.

Known as ‘Comrade Bala’ within the women-only collective he founded 40 years ago, the 75-year-old carried out a brutal campaign of sexual degradation against the women over several decades.

He brainwashed the cult into thinking he had God-like powers and that he could read their minds as a means of subjecting them to years of abuse.

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Aravindan Balakrishnan with members of the cult he lead, including his daughter

Balakrishnan claimed that a challenge to his leadership resulted in the 1986 space shuttle disaster and that Jackie was also responsible for the death of a Malaysian prime minister and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour party leader.

The judge said he had treated his daughter like “an experiment”.

She said: “Your treatment of her from her birth to the age of 26 was a catalogue of mental and physical abuse.

“She was slapped with slippers or a stick from a McDonald’s balloon you kept for the purpose.”

To keep his devotees in check, Balakrishnan invented an invisible war machine called Jackie which he said could kill or trigger earthquakes if anyone went against his will.

During Balakrishnan’s trial, the jury had heard how his daughter was effectively kept prisoner in the cult’s house, and robbed of the chance to get to know her extended family, make friends or go to school. She had never visited a doctor.

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Aravindan Balakrishnan in the 1970s

The secret child of Balakrishnan and one of his followers, growing up she was told she was a “waif” who had been adopted by the cult.

Starved of affection, she was banned from leaving the house unaccompanied and routinely psychologically and physically abused.

As a child, she became so lonely she would talk to the taps in the bathroom, and tried to make friends with the rats and mice that scuttled into the kitchen.

After 30 years being kept a “slave” she managed to escape the cult in 2013 after memorising the number for an anti-slavery charity she saw on the news.

Balakrishnan’s daughter waived her right to anonymity to describe her ordeal

Katy Morgan-Davies, 33, formerly known as Rosie Davies, was beaten and psychologically abused by her father, with her life restricted to the south London commune where her every move was manipulated.

Revealing her real identity, Miss Morgan-Davies said that waiving her anonymity was an important step – “to retrieve the identity the cult tried to steal from me”.

She told the news agency: “I’ve been a non-person all my life and now is my chance to be myself.

“It was horrible, so dehumanising and degrading. I felt like a caged bird with clipped wings.”

Miss Morgan-Davies believes her father to be a “narcissist and a psychopath”. 

“Everybody else worshipping him, loving him, praising him, obeying him – he was just obsessed about control.

“And the people he looked up to were people like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein – you couldn’t criticise them either in the house. They were his gods and his heroes.

“These were the sort of people he wanted to emulate.”

“Sometimes he would say he didn’t like Mao, because he saw Mao as a rival to him as well.

“So he sort of followed them and wanted to be like them, but at the same time he didn’t want them to be worshipped, except as secondary to him.

“(He wanted to be) bigger than all of them.”

December 2015

Maoist cult leader faces life in prison for imprisoning his own daughter in the commune for 3 decades

Maoist-Aravindan-Balakrishnan

A Maoist cult leader faces the prospect of dying in jail after being found guilty of sexually assaulting two women and imprisoning his own daughter in the commune for 30 years.

Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, known as Comrade Bala, carried out a “brutal” campaign of violence and “sexual degradation” against the women over several decades.

He brainwashed his followers into thinking he had God-like powers, and invented a supernatural force known as “Jackie” who, he said, could trigger natural disasters if his will was flouted.

After fathering a daughter with one of his acolytes, he kept her a prisoner in their London home for three decades.

Beaten, banned from singing nursery rhymes, going to school or making friends, his daughter described herself as a “shadow woman” who was kept like a “caged bird”.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons but is being named Fran, yesterday said she was “overwhelmed with relief” after his conviction for imprisoning her, adding: “I believe justice has definitely been done. I am very happy with the result and at the end of the day he is still my dad.”

She fled in 2013 with the help of a charity. She was 30 years old.

She had escaped eight years earlier in 2005, but was sent home by police because it was a bank holiday, the trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court heard.

Describing life inside the commune, she said: “I felt like a caged bird with clipped wings. Like a fly in a spider’s web. Just really helpless and powerless.”

Balakrishnan, of Enfield, north London, was found guilty of six counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape.

He was also convicted of two counts of ABH, cruelty to a child under 16, and false imprisonment.

He was cleared of one count of ABH and one count of indecent assault.

Grey-haired Balakrishnan looked stone faced as he listened through a hearing loop as the guilty verdicts were read out.

But Josephine Herivel, one of his former followers, shouted across the courtroom floor: “You are sending an innocent man to prison. Shame on you.”

Judge Deborah Taylor said Balakrishnan faces a “substantial custodial sentence”.

The pensioner denied the abuse, and insisted the women vied for his affection and he treated his daughter with compassion. But the court heard he used his charisma and radical politics to prey on women.

The left-winger came to Britain from Singapore in 1963 and enrolled at the London School of Economics – well known during the 1960s for its radical student movement.

By the 1970s he was at the helm of a communist group known as the Workers Institute based in Acre Lane in Brixton, south London.

He gained a number of followers, but as time went by his influence “waned” and the group dwindled to just six women.

Described in court as a “Jekyll and Hyde character”, Balakrishnan turned his Communist commune into a “cult of Bala” where paranoia and fear became the order of the day.

His followers were only allowed to read left-wing texts, spied on each other, and were sexually assaulted and beaten by Balakrishnan.

Balakrishnan was remanded in custody to be sentenced on 29 January