Double jeopardy case: Wendell Baker guilty of rape

  • 25 June 2013
  • From the section London
Wendell Baker
Image caption Wendell Baker, 56, said the police had framed him for the rape

A man has been found guilty of raping a pensioner in her bedroom, under the amended double jeopardy law.

Wendell Baker, 56, of Walthamstow, east London, had denied raping Hazel Backwell, then 66, at her home in Stratford, east London, in 1997.

In 1999, a judge decided the case could not proceed for legal reasons and Baker was found not guilty.

A legal change in 2005 allowed retrials in certain circumstances and a new hearing took place at the Old Bailey.

Baker will be sentenced on Friday. The judge said he would consider a life sentence.

The jury found Baker guilty after deliberating for just over an hour.

Baker was acquitted of raping Ms Backwell, who died in 2002, when the first trial judge ruled DNA evidence had not been collected correctly and could not be used.

'Finish it'

Jurors were told Ms Backwell suffered a "terrifying ordeal" and thought she was going to die.

Baker broke into her home as she slept, tied her hands behind her back with flex and then beat and raped her.

Afterwards, he ransacked her house before leaving her trapped in a cupboard.

A statement was read out from Ms Backwell in the court.

Image caption Hazel Backwell said she thought she was "going to die"

In it she wrote: "I just thought, 'finish it, end it, get out'.

"I asked him to help me up but he told me to get up myself. I thought I was going to die."

Baker denied raping Ms Backwell, telling the court he had been framed by police who he claimed had hounded him for years.

After hearing he had been found guilty, Baker called out from the dock: "I deny the charge and I'll never accept what you have to say."

'Evil crime'

It can now be reported that Baker has previous convictions for burglary, that he pleaded guilty in August 1993 to assaulting his girlfriend and admitted affray in May 2001.

Det Ch Insp Chris Burgess from the Metropolitan Police said: "This has to be one of the most vile and evil crimes that the public will read about and will know about.

"The idea that Baker was able to get away with it in 1999 and he got away with it because the law wasn't applied properly, it would seem at that time.

"It was an injustice - a true injustice - it was the most evil crime, and it's right that we pursue justice now."

In a statement, Ms Backwell's family said: "Hazel never got over her ordeal and the family believe she died with a very sad and broken heart.

"After the rape and attack her life was never to be the same again. This led to the last few years of her life being very lonely and sad and very afraid."

They said they were very grateful that after 15 years, the police and Crown Prosecution Service were able to get a conviction.

"On behalf of Hazel Backwell the family are very pleased that justice has now been done but it is sad our mum is not here to witness the outcome."

Tony Connell, from the Crown Prosecution Service in London, who has been involved in the case for more than 10 years, said: "Hazel Backwell died in 2002 and will sadly never see that justice has been served but we hope that Baker's conviction today will offer some small sense of justice to her family.

"This case demonstrates the commitment of the CPS to bringing criminals to justice notwithstanding the obstacles to be overcome."

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