Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter 'helped daughter rebel against cult leader'


Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins inspired a woman to rebel against her communist cult leader father while he kept her a prisoner for 30 years, a court heard.

Maoist Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, gave his daughter JK Rowling's children's novels and JRR Tolkien's epic Lord Of The Rings books because he thought he himself was like boy wizard hero Potter and Middle Earth hero king Aragorn, his daughter told his trial.

But as she read the books as a teenager, she came to believe that he and his followers in their south London commune were like the evil Voldemort and his loyal Death Eaters from the Harry Potter stories, or Sauron and his Black Riders from Tolkien's epic fantasy trilogy, the jury at London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

This, she said, inspired her to fight back against his control and she renamed the commune "the Dark Tower" after Sauron's home in Lord Of The Rings, with Balakrishnan becoming her "Dark Lord".

Giving evidence via video-link, the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said: "He thought Harry Potter is like him, Harry is like Ara(vindan). It's magic and things. Harry Potter was a way to introduce his ideas to the children."

Talking about Lord Of The Rings, she added: "He said it was like himself. He said (third book) Return Of The King, that when he takes over the world it will be like Aragorn in Lord Of The Rings coming to Middle Earth, destroying Sauron.

"I suppose in his mind Sauron was like America and the West. He would get rid of them, there would be a war and he would destroy them.

"I actually began to see he is like Voldemort and Sauron. He wanted us to be like the Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Black Riders in Lord Of The Rings.

"In the books I found I was like Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins - a little person without any power, fighting against this Dark Lord, this invincible Dark Lord who has over-reaching powers and you can in no way fight against him.

"Yet these tiny little people with their strength get to challenge that and destroy that. I felt so inspired by these books."

Balakrishnan, who was known as Comrade Bala to his followers, watched the screen as his daughter gave her evidence, occasionally shaking his head as she spoke.

She said she called the commune, which lived at locations across London, the Black Tower because: "In Lord Of The Rings it (the tower) was described as 'the house of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured'. That is how I felt living in that house."

The name was also inspired by an episode of BBC Arthurian drama Merlin, she said, where Queen Guinevere was kidnapped and taken to a tower by a witch who used "a mixture of kindness and brutality to change her".

The woman said she never went to school and was initially unaware of "the concept of children" because she did not see any, but later became unhappy when a boy neighbour had a birthday party with friends.

She went on to create imaginary friends including Winston Churchill, whom Balakrishnan hated, and Chairman Mao, whom her father later turned against, she added.

She told the court she had a great memory for childhood dates because she was so unstimulated as she grew up that she remembered every little thing, even looking forward to the clocks going back and forward as "a highlight of my life", and a change to the "monotonous boredom of my life" in a house where it was "a crime to imagine".

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 actual bodily harm, cruelty to a child under 16 and false imprisonment. None of his alleged victims can be named for legal reasons.

The trial continues.