LONDON (Reuters) - A Maoist cult leader, convicted of raping and beating his brainwashed British female followers and keeping his own daughter a fearful prisoner for more than three decades, was jailed for 23 years on Friday.
Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, known as Comrade Bala, used sexual degradation and physical and mental violence to keep the women under his control. Prosecutors said he turned his south London Communist commune into his own personal cult with members who believed him to be a god.
His own daughter, Katy Morgan-Davies, who was born to one of the women in the collective, was also bullied and beaten, barely allowed to leave her home and never permitted to go to school, play with friends or even see a doctor.
“He loved violence, and those totalitarian dictatorships. He wanted to be like that, he wanted to be like Stalin, or Mao or Pol Pot,” she told Sky News.
Balakrishnan, a small, grey-haired, bespectacled figure, denied all charges but was convicted at London’s Southwark Crown Court in December of offences spanning almost 34 years including child cruelty, false imprisonment, rape and indecent assault.
He began as the charismatic head of a Communist group in south London in the 1970s called the Workers’ Institute following the teachings of Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China.
However, over time, the group’s numbers waned, the men were forced to leave and the dwindling group of women were so dominated and brainwashed they believed he was all-powerful.
He threatened them with what he called a supernatural mind-control machine which he named “Jackie” - an acronym of Jehovah, Allah, Christ, Krishna and Immortal Easwaran.
Among the group was his daughter. She was not told who her parents were, only learning who her mother was after her death when she was a teenager.
“If I did something wrong, others and me, we would be killed by Jackie,” she told Sky News. “If he intervened by slapping us and beating us ... then Jackie would think that enough has been done and not kill us. So we should be thankful that he is hurting us ... because we would be saved from Jackie.”
Her fate and that of the other followers only came to light when she escaped his clutches in 2013 when she was 30, very ill with diabetes, and suffering with chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison