Cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan jailed for 23 years

Maoist cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan. Picture by Anthony Devlin, Press Association
Kate Ferguson

A MAOIST cult leader who raped two of his followers and kept his daughter a "slave" for 30 years has been jailed for 23 years.

Aravindan Balakrishnan (75) known as Comrade Bala, brainwashed his cult into thinking he had God-like powers and could read their minds, and subjected them to decades of abuse.

His former followers included Belfast-born Josephine Herivel who, shouted at Balakrishnan's trial last month: "You are sending an innocent man to prison. Shame on you."

Balakrishnan's daughter Katy Morgan-Davies (33) formerly known in the press as Fran, waived her right to anonymity to speak out about the years of psychological and physical bullying she endured at her father's hands.

She told the Press Association: "It was horrible, so dehumanising and degrading. I felt like a caged bird with clipped wings."

Balakrishnan, of Enfield, north London, was impassive as he was sentenced at London's Southwark Crown Court yesterday.

He had been convicted of four counts of rape, six counts of indecent assault, two counts of ABH, cruelty to a child under 16, and false imprisonment.

The grey-haired pensioner idolised tyrants Chairman Mao, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein and wanted to be "bigger than all of them", his daughter said.

He ran his tiny south London cult, the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, with an iron fist - banning his daughter from leaving the house or mixing with other children, and sexually assaulting two of his followers "by appointment".

Jailing him, Judge Deborah Taylor said: "You were ruthless in your exploitation of them".

He was assessed by a doctor and has a "narcissistic personality disorder" and has a "grandiose" sense of his own self importance, the court heard.

The judge said Balakrishnan 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.

In a bizarre and harrowing case, jurors 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 or make friends.

She was the secret child of Balakrishnan and one of his followers Sian Davies, a former pupil at Cheltenham Ladies' College.

But growing up she was told she was a "waif" who 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 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.

She is now carving out a new life for herself in Leeds.

She said: "I've been a non-person all my life and now is my chance to be myself."

The judge said Balakrishnan had waged a campaign of physical and psychological abuse against his victims. Commenting on his treatment of his daughter, she said: "You decided to treat her as a project, not a person.

"You claimed to do it for her to protect her from the outside world, but you created a cruel environment."

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