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  1. ITV Report

Aravindan Balakrishnan: Maoist cult leader jailed for raping followers and imprisoning daughter

Video report by ITV News' Penny Marshall

A Maoist cult leader has been jailed for raping his followers and keeping his daughter prisoner for 30 years.

Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, carried out a brutal campaign of violence and sexual degradation against women over several decades in his secretive commune in south London.

He will likely die behind bars after being handed a 23-year prison sentence.

Here's what we know about the case.

  • 'Comrade Bala'
Old photo-booth image of Balakrishnan taken in the 1970s. Credit: Metropolitan Police

Aravindan Balakrishnan convinced his victims he possessed "all-powerful and all-seeing" God-like powers.

The grey-haired pensioner also invented a supernatural force known as "Jackie" who, he said, could trigger natural disasters if his orders were ignored.

He idolised Chairman Mao, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein and wanted to be "bigger than all of them".

After fathering a daughter with one of his followers, he kept her prisoner for her entire life until she was 30.

She managed to raise the alarm in late 2013 after escaping from a house in Peckford Place, Brixton.

A two-year police investigation ensued which eventually led to Balakrishnan's conviction.

  • His crimes
Aravindan Balakrishnan with some of his victims. Credit: Metropolitan Police

After a trial at Southwark Crown Court, Balakrishnan was convicted of:

6
counts of indecent assault
4
counts of rape
2
assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH), cruelty to children and false imprisonment
  • His daughter
Katy Morgan Davies speaking to Penny Marshall. Credit: ITV News

Katy Morgan-Davies, 33, was born into her father's cult and spent her until life - until she escaped his clutches - entirely isolated from the outside world.

She was banned from singing nursery rhymes, going to school and interacting with other children.

Remarkably, she was never told that Balakrishnan was her father or that another member of the cult, Sian Davies was her mother.

Ms Davies died in a fall from a window at the house they shared.

Her death is still shrouded in mystery.

Sian Davies died at the house in south London in mysterious circumstances. Credit: ITV News

Ms Morgan-Davies has bravely waived her right to anonymity to speak out about the years of psychological and physical bullying she endured at her father's hands.

She said she finally has a "voice" now that she is free, telling ITV News' Penny Marshall: “I was like a caged bird with clipped wings. Now I am learning to fly.”

Katy Morgan Davies's bedroom in the 'dark tower'. Credit: Metropolitan Police
She was kept prisoner for her entire life until she turned 30. Credit: Metropolitan Police
  • Judge's comments

Sentencing him, Judge Deborah Taylor said:

You were ruthless in your exploitation of them.

You engendered a climate of fear, jealousy and competition for your approval.

These are grave and serious crimes conducted over a long period of time and you have shown no remorse whatsoever.

– Judge Deborah Taylor

She also said Balakrishnan had treated his daughter like "an experiment", subjecting her to "a catalogue of mental and physical abuse".

  • Wife insists husband is innocent
Josephine Herivel (left) and Chanda Balakrishnan. Credit: PA Wire

Balakrishnan's wife Chanda still insists her husband is innocent, saying his conviction is a "miscarriage of justice".

"It is a political prosecution and a miscarriage of justice," she said outside court.

"I've seen him twice in prison, he is bearing up - what can he do?

"It's a frame-up."

Her words were echoed by Josephine Herivel, one of his followers, who shouted across the courtroom floor: "This is political persecution. AB (Balakrishnan) has been framed."

  • 'Let him be locked up for a change'
Eleri Morgan after the sentence was passed. Credit: PA Wire

A relative of Katy Morgan-Davies welcomed her father's sentencing - saying "let him be locked up for a change".

Eleri Morgan, 66, whose cousin Sian Davies joined the cult and gave birth to Ms Morgan-Davies, said: "For him at his age, that sentence is fine.

"Let him be locked up for a change."

Ms Morgan told ITV News at the time of Balakrishnan's arrest that the cult was full of "very manipulative people".

She described Balakrishnan as an uncharismatic "toothless old man".

  • What next for Katy Morgan-Davies?