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  1. ITV Report

Cult leader 'sexually assaulted members and kept own daughter prisoner for 30 years'

The leader of a far-left cult sexually assaulted his followers and effectively imprisoned his own daughter for 30 years, a court heard.

Aravindan Balakrishnan was head of a communist collective known as the Workers Institute. Credit: PA

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

Prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC said his victims were so brainwashed they believed he was the "all-powerful and all-seeing" and could not leave even if they wanted to.

She told jurors at London's Southwark Crown Court: "In order to bend them to his will, he used mental and physical dominance and violence, sexual degradation.

"And in relation to one, his daughter, he controlled every sphere of her life to the extent that she was unable either emotionally or physically to leave his influence until she was 30 years old, and was in fact very ill with diabetes."

Southwark Crown Court in London where Balakrishnan is on trial. Credit: PA

The court heard his daughter never went to school, saw a doctor or dentist and barely left the house.

She was bullied and beaten and hidden from the outside world.

Her freedom of movement was restrained to the extent that, even though she could have left physically, the power that the defendant exercised over her meant that she could never leave.

– Prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC

But she she finally managed to escape when she was 30, jurors were told.

Balakrishnan headed a communist collective known as the Workers Institute based in Brixton, south London.

He denies seven counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape against two women during the 1970s and 1980s.

He further denies three counts of actual bodily harm, cruelty to a child under the age of 16 and false imprisonment.