Maoist cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan jailed for 23 years

'Comrade Bala' carried out a brutal campaign of sexual degradation against the women he brainwashed over several decades

Hardeep Matharu@Hardeep_Matharu
Friday 29 January 2016 16:12
Aravindan Balakrishnan arrives at Southwark Crown Court
Aravindan Balakrishnan arrives at Southwark Crown Court

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.

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

Balakrishnan claimed that a challenge to his leadership resulted in the 1986 space shuttle disaster and an invisible war machine called Jackie was responsible for 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 'Jackie', which he said could kill or trigger earthquakes if anyone went against his will.

During Balakrishnan's trial, the jury heard how his daughter was effectively kept as a 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.

Aravindan Balakrishnan in the 1970s

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

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 of being kept as a “slave”, she managed to escape in 2013 after memorising the number for an anti-slavery charity she saw on the news.

A narcissist and a psychopath...he was just obsessed about control

Balakrishnan's daughter waived her right to anonymity to describe her ordeal to the Press Association.

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.”

An artist’s impression of Aravindan Balakrishnan in the dock at Southwark Crown Court during his trial. His daughter is shown giving evidence by videolink

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.”