Maoist sect leader threatened daughter over Ken Livingstone crush, court hears


The leader of a Maoist sect threatened his daughter with death after she revealed she had a crush on former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, a court has heard.

Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, known as Comrade Bala, convinced his cult that he was God-like and could read their minds, jurors heard.

He cowed his followers and daughter into submission by inventing a mythical entity known as Jackie who could read their thoughts and kill them, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC said Bala told his daughter to tell him straight away if she ever dreamt about someone else.

But when she confessed her feelings towards the left-wing Labour politician, her father said she was "getting flu because she was being unfaithful" and that Jackie was preparing to execute her.

Ms Cottage told the court: "The defendant had told her when she was about 13-years-old that she should not dream about someone else, and that if she did she should tell him straight away so that he could protect her from having crushes.

"So, she told him that she had a crush on Ken Livingstone. She thought that if she wrote it down in a nice way then he would be nice and understand.

"After that she came down with the flu and he said that Jackie was preparing to execute her for going against the defendant and having a crush on Ken.

"He said that she was getting flu because she was being unfaithful to him, the centre of the world."

Balakrishnan, of Enfield, north London, denies seven counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape against two women during the 1970s and 1980s.

He also denies three counts of ABH, cruelty to a child under 16 and false imprisonment.

None of his alleged victims can be named for legal reasons.

In another incident, Balakrishnan beat his daughter, and no windows in the house were opened for three years after she has a sexual affair with a neighbour, it is alleged.

In August 2005 the commune moved to a property on the Angel estate in Brixton, south London, when she developed feelings for a neighbour, Marius Feneck, who she called her "angel", the court heard.

Ms Cottage told the court: "She developed a consuming passion for him. She wrote him a poem calling him her angel. She started to find opportunities to try to talk to him."

She sent him photos she had secretly taken of herself and then wrote to him, inviting him to come to her house, jurors heard.

He sneaked in by climbing through her window and the pair had secret trysts, the court was told.

But on one occasion, when he took his cousin over to hers for group sex, they were discovered because his mobile phone rang.

Balakrishnan rushed in and beat his daughter, threatened to "burn her on the spot"" and have her committed to a mental hospital, it is claimed.

Ms Cottage said: "It was as though she had betrayed a husband."

The shouting went on for five hours and she believes she miscarried a child following the beating, jurors heard.

Ms Cottage went on: "After that date the windows were locked and she was banned from seeing him again. She was told that they would kill him if he ever came back."

Depressed and isolated, she began self-harming, the jury was told.

Ms Cottage said: "There was not a single window open thereafter in the house for at least three years."

The woman had no further contact with Mr Feneck, but when Balakrishnan heard the neighbour had been standing near their home on Christmas Day 2008, he violently attacked his daughter, the court heard.

Ms Cottage said: "He told her that he had to hurt her, otherwise she would not listen.

"He was protecting her from AB's Jackie who would kill her if she did not listen to him."

On the rare occasion she dared to voice dissent, he would beat her, jurors were told.

Ms Cottage said: "He was the law, he was the police and the authority. He said that if she informed on him, the whole of the 'Old World'' would blow up."

Driven to despair, the woman plucked up the courage to run away and leave in May 2005, when she was 22, and went to a police station for help - but was sent back to her father, jurors heard.

Ms Cottage told the court that the daughter left home "intending never to go back".

She added: "She was fed up of being a non-person and so just ran away. She packed her things secretly and went away."

With "nowhere to go" and no friends, she was eventually directed to a police station.

Ms Cottage said: "It was scary because she had never before been out on her own. She never learnt to cross a road. Never learnt any of the things we take completely for granted.

She arrived at a police station and spoke to a woman called Donna, but did not tell her of the violence and only said she was running away because of the oppression.

Donna did not know what to do - it was a Bank Holiday and there was nowhere for her to go.

She was "persuaded" to call Balakrishnan, who collected her from the police station amid promises that things would improve, jurors heard.

But Balakrishnan later slapped his daughter and branded her a "police agent" and "traitor", jurors heard.

She only managed the escape from the commune eight years later, in 2013, the court heard.

In the years in between she became ill with suspected diabetes, but she was not allowed to see a doctor and told she would get better if she worshipped Comrade Bala, it is claimed.

With the help of one of the women in the commune and the Freedom Charity, she escaped on October 23 2013.

Ms Cottage said her time as effectively a prisoner in her own home had left deep scars.

She said: "By the time she left, aged 30, she'd never been to school or other educational establishment, had never played outside as a child or gone out with friends as a teenager or an adult, she had never had a bank or other account, had no national insurance number, she had never had her own key.

"Apart from being registered at birth and with a GP at birth - which lapsed due to returned mail, she was not registered anywhere. Not known to anyone.

"This defendant had secured from her birth absolute control over her movements and every aspect of her life until the time she left 30 years later.

"He had secured that, we say, through violence, through threats and through neglect. She had no childhood to speak of.

"By the time she was 16 she was inured to a solitary life dictated by the defendant in the collective. She had no freedom of movement. And we say he falsely imprisoned her."

Documentary Footage of London 'Commune' Members in 1997