Saturday 24 February 2018

London 'slave' case: Police probe death fall of 44-year-old woman

A 44-year-old woman died after plunging from the bathroom of a house rented by the couple suspected of holding three women against their will

Police officers stand outside flats in Brixton, south London, as police are conducting house-to-house inquires in the area where three women were allegedly held as slaves for at least 30 years were rescued
Police officers stand outside flats in Brixton, south London, as police are conducting house-to-house inquires in the area where three women were allegedly held as slaves for at least 30 years were rescued
Flats in Brixton, south London, as police are conducting house-to-house inquires in the area where three women were allegedly held as slaves for at least 30 years were rescued
A police officer outside flats in Brixton, south London, as police are conducting house-to-house inquires in the area where three women were allegedly held as slaves for at least 30 years were rescued
Flats in Brixton, south London, as police are conducting house-to-house inquires in the area where three women were allegedly held as slaves for at least 30 years were rescued. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 23, 2013. A 30-year-old British woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 69-year-old Malaysian woman were rescued from a house in Lambeth, south London, last month, after one of the women called a support charity asking for help. All three women are believed to have suffered "emotional and physical abuse", Metropolitan police commander Steve Rodhouse said. See PA story POLICE Slavery. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Police are looking into the death of a 44-year-old woman who fell from the bathroom window of a house rented by the couple suspected of holding three women for more than thirty years.

Eleri Morgan claims her cousin Sian Davies, 44, died in 1997 after plunging from the second floor of a house in Herne Hill. Ms Davies then allegedly spent seven months in hospital unable to walk before her death.

Scotland Yard confirmed: "We are aware of this and we are attempting to access archived paper records from the Inquest."

Aravindan Balakrishnan and his wife Chanda were revealed to be the couple arrested on suspicion of holding the women against their will at a house in Brixton for more than 30 years.

Ms Morgan said Ms Davies wrote home talking of how she was looking after the "mothers of the world" but was not allowed to see her cousin. Her letters always spoke of "Comrade Bala" - the name that Balakrishnan was referred to.

Ms Morgan met Balakrishnan at the inquest into her cousin's death. She told ITV News: "I had such a shock because I imagined somebody charismatic and there was this toothless old man."

Ms Morgan recalled that Sian had a boyfriend called Martin. She said: "She was outgoing, we went clubbing in our younger days, enjoyed the good life, and next time I saw her she was in the morgue.

"I picked up the paper and oh my God, Bala and it all came back to me...In the paper it implied they were all foreign students, but earlier they weren't all foreign. I know of Martin and Sian - what he did to our family he did to others."

A senior council source confirmed that Balakrishnan and his wife were arrested last week by police amid allegations that they held three women for more than three decades. Two of the alleged victims – a 69-year-old Malaysian and a 57-year-old Irish woman – met “Comrade Bala” through what police have described as a “shared political ideology”.

The couple, who are of Indian and Tanzanian origin and came to the UK in the 1960s, have now been released on bail until a date in January.

The 73-year-old, who along with his 67-year-old wife was arrested on suspicion of assault, false imprisonment and immigration offences following the release of the women, had become a senior member of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) but was expelled in 1974.

The alleged victims are believed to have suffered years of "physical and mental abuse" at the hands of the pair.

The sister of the Malaysian woman told The Telegraph her sister, who she named as ‘Aishah’ moved to Britain in 1968 with her then finance, and never returned. Speaking from her home in Kuala Lumpur, retired teacher Kamar Mautum told the newspaper her sister “was the apple of my mother's eye. She asked for her on her death bed."

The youngest captive, named as ‘Rosie’ in media reports, is said to have written letters to neighbour Marius Feneck, 26, describing her life as being "like a fly trapped in a spider's web".

The woman wrote more than 500 letters to him in seven years, The Guardian said, after becoming infatuated with him.

One letter apparently told of the "unspeakable torment" she suffered behind locked doors and windows, and of how she was terrified that her captors - "these evil criminals... who dare to call themselves 'my relatives"' - might do something to him.

House-to-house inquiries have been carried out in Peckford Place in Brixton where the three women were found. Police have confirmed that there are ongoing inquiries relating to a total of 13 addresses, all in London, linked to the couple.

The couple are believed to have been well-known to the police in the 1970s after establishing up a communist squat, the Mao Zedong Memorial Centre, in Acre Lane, Brixton in 1976.

Balakrishnan was a former member of the national executive committee of the Communist party of England (Marxist-Leninist) but documents show he was suspended from the party in 1974 for pursuing "conspiratorial and splittist activities".

Documents also show how in 1978 police raided the Mao Zedong Memorial Centre, arresting 14 members of the organisation, including Aravindan Balakrishnan and wife Chanda, referred to as Comrade Chanda.

A source at Lambeth Council said the couple were believed to have been in the property for around 10 years after moving there from a council property, and concerns had previously been raised with police about the education of the youngest woman.

Speaking earlier, Metropolitan Police commander Steve Rodhouse said: "We believe that two of the victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology, and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call a 'collective'.

"The people involved, the nature of that collective and how it operated is all subject to our investigation and we are slowly and painstakingly piecing together more information. I will not give any further information about it.

"Somehow that collective came to an end and the women ended up continuing to live with the suspects.

"How this resulted in the women living in this way for over 30 years is what we are seeking to establish, but we believe emotional and physical abuse has been a feature of all the victims' lives."

The case emerged after one of the women contacted the Freedom Charity last month to say she was being held against her will.

Scotland Yard said that part of the agreement on 25 October when the women were removed from the address was that police would not take any action at that stage.

None of the women were reported missing after being rescued, police said, and all three are now in the care of a specialist non-governmental organisation.

Officers have recovered a birth certificate for the 30-year-old woman, who is believed to have lived her entire life in servitude, but no other official documents for her have been found.

Press Association

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