Double jeopardy case: Wendell Baker jailed for pensioner rape

Wendell Baker was jailed after a judge ruled he should be found not guilty at his first trial, in 1999

Related Stories

A man convicted under the amended double jeopardy law of raping a pensioner has been jailed for life.

Wendell Baker, 56, beat and raped 66-year-old Hazel Backwell before locking her in a cupboard at her home in Stratford, east London, in 1997.

Baker was found not guilty in 1999 when a judge wrongly ruled his trial could not proceed. Changes to the law in 2005 meant he could be retried.

He has been ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years and six months.

Ms Backwell suffered a "terrifying ordeal" and thought she was going to die at the hands of Baker, who broke into her home and attacked her, the Old Bailey heard.

'Beaten black and blue'

He tied her hands behind her back with flex and beat and raped her. He then proceeded to ransack her house before leaving her bound and trapped in a cupboard.

A "terrified" Ms Backwell was found by chance by a neighbour the following evening.

Analysis

Wendell Baker almost got away with it.

Had it not been for a court order compelling his defence solicitors to hand over copies of the case papers after the police had inexplicably lost theirs, a retrial would not have been possible.

Baker had escaped justice in 1999 because of another blunder: a judge wrongly ruled that the key - and virtually only - evidence against him, from DNA samples, was inadmissible.

The decision, corrected by the Law Lords, led Labour to introduce sweeping new powers ensuring DNA profiles from people cleared of crimes could be retained, measures which the Coalition Government has now watered down.

Baker, from Walthamstow, 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.

The Law Lords later overturned the judge's ruling, although as the law stood Baker could not be tried a second time for the same crime.

But after the law was amended it was possible for him to be tried again. Jurors heard a DNA match was found "in the order of one in a billion" linking him to the case.

Sentencing Baker at the Old Bailey, Judge Peter Rook said: "It seems to me it's difficult to find a case of more serious rape during the course of a burglary, short of where the victim is either killed or caused very serious harm.

"This was a particularly grave case of the rape of a woman in her own bedroom, you having broken into her home at night. Up until then she had always felt safe and secure in her home.

"This was a planned offence to steal money. When you could not find any, you decided to punish her with a brutal and vicious attack and by raping her."

The victim was beaten "black and blue" and "her face was unrecognisable even to her own son who only recognised her by her voice," the judge told the court.

'Raped a second time'

A statement on behalf of Ms Backwell's son David and her family said the "depraved attack" had "completely ruined her life".

It added: "She survived the attack and was able to give a detailed account of what Wendell Baker put her through but her life was never the same again.

Hazel Backwell Hazel Backwell said she thought she was "going to die" during the attack

"My mother sadly passed away lonely, with a broken heart and a shadow of her former self and was never able to see the man who caused her so much pain jailed for what he did.

"My mother felt as if she had been raped a second time when Wendell Baker was first acquitted.

"My mother suffered and it saddens me that she is not here to witness this momentous day.

"Today is a good day for our family but it will always be tinged with sadness."

Following the sentence, Det Ch Insp Christopher Burgess said: "Wendell Baker mistakenly believed that he had got away with this horrific crime back in 1997 but the Special Casework Investigations Team has worked tirelessly to ensure that he will now spend a considerable amount of time in jail for the crime he has committed."

More on This Story

Related Stories

BBC London

Weather

London

29 °C 16 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    Beating the heat 12:10: Debabani Majumdar BBC London News

    The mercury is set to hit 29C in London today, so how are you planning to cool off? Or will you top-up the tan in a London park?

    Contact us on Twitter @BBCLondonNews, or BBC London's Facebook page or you can email us at london.locallive@bbc.co.uk

    Man in Hyde Park and girl jumping in a water installation at Southbank
     
  2.  
    Fire in Greenwich pub 12:05:

    One man was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and 30 others left a pub in Greenwich, after a fire broke out last night in the basement, London Fire Brigade has said.

    Up to 20 firefighters tackled the blaze in the basement of a pub in College Approach. LFB believes the fire was caused by the careless disposal of smoking materials.

     
  3.  
    Sex crime 'massively pressurised area' 11:51:

    Caroline Pidgeon, deputy chair of London Assembly's Police and Crime Committee, said the Met Police "must have sufficient resources in place to ensure robust enquiries, regardless of whether the case involved a celebrity many years ago or a neighbour or relative just yesterday".

    Met Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said the unit was a "massively pressurised area", but said some officers were working for the teams who had not been recorded in workforce numbers.

     
  4.  
    MP David Ruffley on assault 'regret' 11:41:

    David Ruffley, the Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds, has said he "deeply regrets" actions that led to a police caution for common assault on his ex-partner earlier this year.

    David Ruffley, Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley has been the Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds since 1997

    Speaking about the the incident at his flat in Pimlico, central London, for the first time through his lawyers he admitted "inappropriate action". The Conservative Party is now privately discussing the future of the MP.

     
  5.  
    Murder inquiry in Newham 11:30:

    A murder investigation is underway after a 54-year-old man was found with an injury to his neck in Newham, east London.

    Police were called at 14:17 yesterday to the City of London Cemetery, North Boundary Road, to reports of a man unconscious. He was taken to hospital where he died. No arrests have been made.

     
  6.  
    Uxbridge Road lane blocked 11:20:

    TfL Traffic News tweets: A312 The Parkway (N/B) approaching turn off for Uxbridge Rd (Hayes) Lane one blocked, traffic flowing well.

    Uxbridge Road
     
  7.  
    Report into undercover policing 11:08: Matt Prodger Home affairs correspondent

    Metropolitan Police spied on up to 10 families campaigning for justice, including that of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man who was shot dead by officers 2005.

    Head of Association of Chief Police Officers Sir Hugh Orde tells the BBC the spying on families was "a failure of senior management at the Met".

     
  8.  
    London student murder 10:58:

    Police have arrested two men over the fatal stabbing of a student in York Road, Southend, Essex. Hassan Mohammed, from Camberwell, south London, died after being stabbed twice on 7 July.

    Hassan Mohammed Hassan Mohammed was stabbed twice

    A 17-year-old male from Westcliff-on-Sea was arrested and bailed on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon while police are continuing to question a 40-year-old man from Southend who was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender and perverting the course of justice.

     
  9.  
    Mo Farah withdraws 10:48:

    Double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah has withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after failing to recover from a recent illness.

    Farah, 31, won the 5,000m and 10,000m at London 2012 and was set to run both distances in Scotland. However, he has decided to stay in his training camp to be fit for August's European Championships in Zurich.

     
  10.  
    Met Police team 'under-resourced' 10:40:

    The Met Police's Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command is "seriously under-resourced" as dozens of posts are unfilled, despite a rise in child abuse claims, a report by London Assembly has found.

    From 2012/13 to 2013/14 the number of child rape allegations in the capital increased by 14% - from from 511 to 583 - and sexual assault claims by 13% - from 1,599 to 1,803, but more than 50 roles in the unit were vacant in September.

     
  11.  
    Charles de Menezes family 10:33: Danny Shaw Home affairs correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Jean Charles de Menezes family: "very upsetting & absolute disgrace to know the police were spying on us after everything we've been through"

    Relatives say they are planning to consult lawyers on possible legal action.

     
  12.  
    Information 'gathered' on Menezes family 10:22:

    The Metropolitan Police gathered information on relatives of Jean Charles de Menezes, who was shot dead by police at Stockwell Tube station in July 2005.

    Jean Charles de Menezes is seen in this identification photo from Jan 29, 2001 Jean Charles de Menezes was shot by police in July 2005

    His family's lawyer said she had been informed by the Met that information was gathered on them after his death. The Met Police will give an update on Operation Herne - the investigation into undercover policing - later.

     
  13.  
    Keeping safe in the Thames 10:10:

    More than 84% of the 34 people who drowned in the River Thames since 2010 were adult men, the RNLI said.

    Guy Addington, the RNLI's Coastal Safety Manager in the south east, said: "If you enter the water, intentionally or otherwise, you are at risk of cold water shock, which seriously impairs your ability to swim, and causes uncontrollable gasping, which can draw water into your lungs."

     
  14.  
    Broken down train 09:56:

    A broken down train between City Thameslink and London Blackfriars is causing delays of up to 30 minutes to journeys between London St Pancras International and London Blackfriars, National Rail has said.

     
  15.  
    Lives lost in the River Thames 09:46:

    Fifteen people accidentally drowned in the River Thames last year, with a total of 34 lives lost in the river over the last four years, figures from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution reveal.

    RNLI crew in London RNLI crews rescued 344 people in London last year

    And there were 16 near-misses, as the RNLI's London crews helped rescued 344 people in 2013. The charity has launched a drowning awareness campaign, Respect the Water, urging people to take care.

     
  16.  
    Drugs seized from Ilford 09:34:

    Redbridge MPS tweets: Cash & drugs seized at Springfield Court, Forsythia Close, Ilford as part of Op Big Wing. #Redbridge#Bigwing

    Cash and drugs seized
     
  17.  
    Wandsworth council estates improvement 09:20:

    More than £6.5m will be spent on a programme of improvements to council estates in Wandsworth, Wandsworth Guardian reports.

    Patmore and Carey Gardens estates in Battersea, the Alton in Roehampton, the Ashburton in Putney, the Magdalen Park estate in Earlsfield and Wandsworth's Morris Gardens estate will see improvements.

     
  18.  
    Old flame 09:07: Andy Dangerfield BBC News Online

    tweets: I'm visiting an old flame. London 2012 #OlympicCauldron is on show @MuseumofLondon

    London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron
     
  19.  
    Woman stabbed repeatedly 08:58:

    A woman is in a serious condition after being stabbed at the property in Allnutt Way, Clapham, yesterday at about 17:45.

    Officers believe a man entered the address and attacked the victim, in her 30s, before leaving in a silver Peugeot van. The woman, who suffered multiple stab wounds, knew the attacker, police said. No-one has been arrested.

     
  20.  
    VIDEO: Conducting a choir 08:47:

    How do you conduct a choir if you can't see the music or the performers in front of you?

    Victoria Oruwari

    For blind opera singer Victoria Oruwari this is the challenge she faces as she joins four other visually impaired musicians who have come together for a conducting masterclass before publicly taking the baton and leading a performance of their chosen music at London's Wigmore Hall.

     
  21.  
    Top headlines
  22.  
    Resources to tackle child abuse 08:37: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    From 09:00, Vanessa Feltz is discussing whether the police need more resources to help deal with the 10% rise in child abuse in the capital?

    Call us on 020 722 42000 or email Vanessa@bbc.co.uk

     
  23.  
    Impact of war 08:29: Beth Rose BBC News Online

    Aerial photographs which show the impact of World War One on the UK landscape have been released as part of a project to mark the war's centenary.

    St James' Park

    Britain from Above features 95,000 images taken by the company Aerofilms Ltd which show buildings linked to the war effort.

     
  24.  
    Police 'spied on dead student's family' 08:19:

    A mother campaigning for an inquiry into her son's death in 1997 says she has been told she was spied on by undercover Scotland Yard officers.

    Ricky Reel

    Student Ricky Reel vanished during a night out in London, after he and his friends had been racially abused by two white men. His body was found in the River Thames.

     
  25.  
    Disruption on trains 08:14:

    Southern trains and Gatwick Express in and out of Victoria are running with delays of 20 minutes following signal problems at Battersea Park.

    Southern and First Capital Connect services via Carshalton are running with delays of 30 minutes following an obstruction on the line earlier and there are delays of up to 15 minutes on the c2c following an earlier trespass incident in the Southend area.

    For the latest travel news follow @BBCTravelAlert on Twitter.

     
  26.  
    Hot and sunny forecast 08:08:

    The day will be dry and hot with a little cloud developing through the afternoon. Maximum Temperature: 29C (84F)

     
  27.  
    Delays on the road 08:03:

    The M25 is down to three lanes anticlockwise about four miles after J28 A12 Brook Street Roundabout for barrier repairs following an accident yesterday afternoon. About 30 metres of barrier damage needs to be fixed.

    And the M4 is slow London-bound from J7 Slough West towards J5 Langley following a breakdown.

    For the latest travel information visit BBC London's travel page.

     
  28.  
    Good morning 08:00: Debabani Majumdar BBC London News

    I'll be guiding you through BBC Local Live today, bringing you the latest news, travel, weather and sport from across London.

    Get in touch with your comments and photos by emailing london.locallive@bbc.co.uk.

     

Features

  • Shinji Mikamo's father's watchTime peace

    The story of the watch that survived Hiroshima


  • Northern League supporters at the party's annual meeting in 2011Padania?

    Eight places in Europe that also want independence


  • Elephant Diaries - BBCGoing wild

    Wildlife film-makers reveal the tricks of the trade


  • Hamas rally in the West Bank village of Yatta, 2006Hamas hopes

    Why the Palestinian group won't back down yet


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Arash AF8Naughty Brits

    From scrappy upstarts to legendary brands, six speed demons that hail from the UK

Programmes

  • A man taking a selfie with friendsClick Watch

    The apps to help you with selfies, plus other websites and apps reviewed

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.