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Agony of Co Down man who lived next door to sex slaves in communist cult

By Brett Campbell

A Co Down man who lived next door to a bizarre communist cult — where women and a child were held captive for decades — has broken down in tears as he expressed regret for not intervening.

Peter McEvoy lived next door to the secretive cult in Streatham, London for around six years before its infamous leader Aravindan Balakrishnan was evicted.

“My children would be playing in the back garden, making a lot of noise and occasionally we would see a little girl peak out the window,” he said.

“That was all we saw of her, we never saw her outside the house.”

Mr McEvoy, from Drumaness, moved to London in the early 1980s and later settled in Streatham with wife Antoinette and their two kids.

 “Looking back it seems so obvious but I really had no idea what was happening in that house.

“Bala would only leave the house with two women to go to the shops but they never spoke to anyone. He was very shrewd,” said the 57-year-old.

Mr McEvoy is also featured in a new BBC documentary telling the story of the cult which was only exposed in 2013 when Belfast-born devotee Josephine Herivel escaped the Brixton flat where the group had relocated.

In the film Mr McEvoy describes how the front and back garden of the Streatham house was overgrown with weeds stretching up to 4ft high allowing the twisted guru and his devoted followers to live in relative obscurity. “The curtains were never opened at any time at all, at the front or back of the house,” he said.

“The only time you would see them is when the little girl would turn around and pop her head up and then back down again,” he said.

In the film he bows his head and sobs, wipes tears from his face, and says: “It’s just the thought of what that child has gone through and at the time I just didn’t do anything about it and I’m so sorry that I didn’t.

“I didn’t know what was happening, but if I did I definitely would have done something about it.”

The disturbing Maoist collective was founded by Aravindan Balakrishnan and its roots go back to the 1970s when the deluded leader first began brainwashing people into believing that he was the all-powerful, immortal ruler of the world.

‘Comrade Bala’ convinced his followers that he had an electronic machine — called Jackie  — which was a supernatural force that enabled him to control nature. 

Membership had dwindled to just three women when it was discovered and included Balakrishnan’s daughter, Katy Morgan-Davies.

Katy had been ill with undiagnosed diabetes when former child musical prodigy and Belfast Methodist College student, Josephine Herival, masterminded an escape plan.

She memorised an anti-slavery helpline number and smuggled a mobile phone into the flat.

Josie Herival, who dropped out of London’s Royal College of Music in the 1970s in order to pledge allegiance to the crazed cult leader, did not participate in the film.

But she has previously revealed that she now regrets exposing the cult.

Following comrade Bala’s conviction for child cruelty, false imprisonment, four counts of rape, and six counts of indecent assault, Josie insisted that the court had got it wrong and remains actively engaged in attempts to clear his name.

In the new documentary Katy, who had spent her childhood and youth in captivity being indoctrinated with her abusive father’s absurd ideas, said she now pities Belfast woman Josie.

“I am sad for Josie but that’s her choice.

“I am sad she can’t free her mind from the spell of the cult.”

But Katy also expressed a desire to be reconciled with her father who was jailed in January 2016 for 23 years.

The story of ‘The Cult Next Door’ is told by Vanessa Eagle and will air on BBC2 at 9pm on January 26.

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