Friday, April 03, 2015

Multicultural rapist who repeatedly attacked a 13-year-old girl and paid her £2 each time is jailed for 18 years

A sex attacker who repeatedly raped a 13-year-old was jailed for 18 years today.

Ghanaian Alex Baah, of south-east London, paid the girl £2 after each assault, the Old Bailey heard.

The 42-year-old raped the girl at an address near Croydon and sent her perverted text messages, the court was told.

The victim finally complained to police in August 2013 when she was aged 15.

Jobless Baah denied touching the girl and claimed she had planted evidence and stole his mobile to send the messages.

But the jury convicted him of five counts of rape committed between 2010 and 2013.

The jury failed to reach verdicts on a further two counts of raping the girl when she was eleven and those charges were dropped.

Judge Simon Farrell told the father-of-three his behaviour was ‘wicked'.  He said: ‘This was a terrible case. The damaged caused to this girl is incalculable.'  The judge added: ‘Rape of a child is a particularly serious offence and calls for severe punishment.’

The girl, who cannot be identified, told how Baah would give her money after he raped her.

After an attack in early August 2013, she turned up unexpectedly at her aunt’s house in floods of tears.  Her aunt said: ‘As soon as she arrived at my house she walked through the door and said: “He’s been touching me”.

‘I called her mother and she managed to get hold of her first but she was hysterical and wasn’t talking clearly. Then she showed me the text messages.'

Baah’s name had been was saved in the girl’s phone under ‘P****’, the court heard.

Traces of Baah’s DNA were found on the girl’s clothes during a medical examination after she alerted police.

Giving evidence Baah claimed: ‘I don’t know how it got there, but the only way I can think is she go to the bathroom and use it against me.’

He also tried to argue that text messages sent from his phone may have been an attempt to set him up.

Baah, of Plumstead, denied two counts of raping a child under the age of 13 and five counts of rape of the same victim between 2008 and 2013.

In addition to his jail term, the judge passed a sexual offences prevention order which bans Baah from wilfully being in the presence of a girl under the age of 16.

He waved at relatives in the public gallery as he was led to the cells.


Is social class important in Australia?

Prominent Australian novelist Tim Winton has a very long winded article in "The Monthly", Australia's premier Marxist magazine.  Marxists of course obsess about social class and that would seem to be why Winton appears in that magazine -- because his article is all about class.  Wordy as it is however, there is not much you can pin down in the article as a firm claim.  It is more a  collection of soliloquies and anecdotes.  I reproduce just his conclusion below as that seems to be as near he gets to saying something definite. My own investigations into social class were rather more numerate.

Winton concedes that  class has become much less important in recent decades but probably overestimates how important it used to be.  He sees his own emergence from a working class background in the '70s as a sort or rare good fortune.  It was not.  My days at university were a decade before his.  I was there in the '60s to his '70s and I had no barriers in my way at all.  I came from a background as least as working class as Winton's (my father was a red-headed lumberjack who liked a drink and was ready with his fists) but I was a beneficiary of the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme initiated by that great conservative Prime Minister, Robert Menzies.  That gave free university education plus a living allowance to the top third of High School graduates, reasonably regarded as the population slice most likely to be able to absorb a university education.  It was a lot more generous than the present HECS-HELP arrangements.

My studies were largely untroubled and I had a lot of fun as a conservative student activist.  Where most students were marching in anti-Vietnam demonstrations, I joined the army (Reserves).  I guess I was brought up in a psychogically healthier home than Winton was -- one that did not seethe with resentment of other people's good fortune -- which appears to be Winton's background, according to his account.

And after an interlude of just one year I went into academe, got tenure and stayed there until I retired.  Obviously I had the brains to do that but my point is that that was all it took.  Social class at no point entered into it.

In conclusion, I am amused that Winton is happy with his own lot and seems to have no resolve to do anything personally in aid of the poor.  He and I have that in common.  But he thinks that "something should be done" about the poor, while I think that nothing more can be. But his thinking gets acclaim while mine gets obloquy.  Fortunately not much bothers me.  I am pleased that a very great Rabbi agrees with me though.  See the Gospel of John 12:8

Where once Australia looked like a pyramid in terms of its social strata, with the working class as its broad base and ballast and the rich at the top, it’s come to resemble something of a misshapen diamond – wide in the middle – and that’s no bad thing in and of itself. I say that, of course, as a member of the emblematically widening middle. The problem is those Australians the middle has left behind without a glance.

At the bottom, of course, there are the poor, who make up almost 13 per cent of Australia’s population. The most visible of them will always be the welfare class: the sick, the addicted, the impaired and the unemployed, who only exist in the public mind as fodder for tabloid TV and the flagellants of brute radio. But if ever there was a truly “forgotten people” in our time it must be the working poor. These folk, the cleaners and carers and hospitality workers, excite no media outrage. They labour in the shadows in increasingly contingent working situations. Described as “casuals”, the only casual element of their existence is the attitude of the entities that employ them. Often on perpetual call or split shifts, their working lives are unstable. Many of them women, a significant proportion of them migrants, they have little bargaining power and low rates of union representation. As Helen Masterman-Smith and Barbara Pocock vividly document in their 2008 study, Living Low Paid, these people work in hospitals, supermarkets and five-star hotels. They mind the children of prosperous professional couples and wash their incontinent parents in care for an hourly rate most middle-class teenage babysitters can afford to turn their noses up at. It is upon these citizens’ low pay and insecurity that the prosperity of safer families is often built.

 For these vulnerable Australians, there is little mobility. And precious little of what mobility affords – namely, confidence. The cockiness that irritates the old middle class when they encounter fly-in, fly-out workers with their Holden SS utes and tatts and jetskis is rare among the labouring poor. For years I worked in a residential high-rise where the looks on people’s faces in the lifts and on the walkways ranged from wry resignation to unspeakable entrapment. Single mothers on shrinking benefits, injured workers on disability allowances, middle-aged people stocking supermarket shelves at night. Even the most functional and optimistic of them seemed tired. They were not exhausted from partying, from keeping up with all their dizzying choices; they were worn out from simply hanging on and making do. As an accidental tourist in their lives, I was struck by this weariness. And I felt awkward in their presence. Their faces and voices were completely familiar. They smelt like the people of my boyhood – fags, sugar and the beefy whiff of free-range armpit – but despite the cheerful, non-committal conversations we had on our slow ascents in the lift, I felt a distance that took many months to come to terms with. Like the expatriate whose view of home is largely antique, I was a class traveller who’d become a stranger to his own. For all my connection to family, for all the decades I’d spent in fishing towns among tradespeople and labourers, the working class I knew was no more. My new neighbours were living another life entirely.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman writes about the contrast between the “light, sprightly and volatile” working lives of mobile citizens at the top of society and those who are largely without choice and prospects. Comfortable, confident people, heirs of the new individualism, often view strangers in cohorts below them in astoundingly superficial terms, as if they have adopted a look, chosen an identity as they often do themselves, as if life were a largely sartorial affair. Faced with your own surfeit of choices, it’s easy to assume everyone has so many. The “liquid” elite understands exotic poverty – it rallies to it tearfully – but it often fails to recognise domestic hardship: poverty of choice, poverty born of constraint, the poverty that is working servitude or the bonded shame of unemployment. Despite the angelic appeal of market thinking, there is no gainsaying the correlation between success and certain family backgrounds, geographical locations, ethnicities and schools. Pretending otherwise isn’t simply dishonest, it’s morally corrosive.

The culture that formed me was poorer, flatter and probably fairer than the one I live in today. Class was more visible, less confusing, more honestly defined and clearly understood. And it was something you could discuss without feeling like a heretic. The decency of our society used to be the measure of its success. Such decency rescued many of us from over-determined lives. It was the moral force that eroded barriers between people, opened up pathways previously unimagined. Not only did it enlarge our personal imaginations but it also enhanced our collective experience. The new cultural confidence this reform produced prefigured the material prosperity we currently enjoy. It was government intervention as much as the so-called genius of the market that underpinned our current prosperity, and it amazes me how quickly we’ve let ourselves be persuaded otherwise.

I have no illusions about overcoming class distinctions completely. Nor am I discounting the role that character plays in an individual’s fortunes. But it disturbs me to see governments abandoning those at the bottom while pandering to the appetites of the comfortable. Under such conditions, what chance is there for the working poor to fight their way free to share in the spoils of our common wealth? No one’s talking ideology. There is no insurrection brewing. For many Australian families, a gap in the fence is all the revolution they require. But while business prospers from the increased casualisation of its workforce, and government continues to reward the insatiable middle, the prospects of help for the weakest and decency for all seem dim indeed.


The Fascist Left and Same-Sex Marriage

Last week, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a law with the same name as one signed on the federal level by President Bill Clinton in 1993, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the presumptive next Senate minority leader. Naturally, Pence found himself on the wrong end of a partisan barrage from ABC News' George Stephanopoulos for signing that law the following Sunday. It sure is nice to be a Democrat.

What exactly does the law state? The Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana states that “a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” That rule does not apply only if the government’s action “is in furtherance of a compelling government interest” and is also “the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest.” If government does act against someone in violation of that person’s religious principles, he or she can assert that violation “as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding.”

The law does not specifically single out same-sex marriage as an activity against which a religious person may discriminate, but it certainly holds out that possibility. Of course, that possibility is already inherent in a little concept we in the United States used to call freedom – freedom to choose how to conduct one’s business and freedom to practice one’s religion in one’s practice of business.

Under a philosophy of freedom, the market solves the general problem of private discrimination, because if one person decides to discriminate against Jews or blacks or gays, he or she loses money and is put out of business for his or her trouble. Nobody has the right, under a philosophy of freedom, to invoke the power of the government’s gun in order to force someone to provide a good or service.

That system is a heck of a lot safer for minorities than a system by which government regulates the proper conduct of voluntary activities. Black Americans should know that, given that Jim Crow was not merely a system of voluntary discrimination but a government-enforced set of regulations designed to ban voluntary transactions involving blacks. Gays, too, should understand that freedom is far preferable to government-enforced societal standards governing consenting transactions, given that government used to be utilized to discriminate openly against homosexual behavior.

But the left has rewritten the concept of freedom to mean “whatever the government allows you to do,” and leftists now insist that government cannot allow discrimination – unless, of course, the government is itself enforcing discrimination against religious Christians who don’t want to violate their belief in traditional marriage.

Same-sex marriage, it turns out, was never designed to grant legal benefits to same-sex couples. That could have been done under a regime of civil unions. Same-sex marriage was always designed to allow the government to have the power to cram down punishment on anyone who disobeys the government’s vision of the public good. One need not be an advocate of discrimination against gays to believe that government does not have the ability to enforce the prevailing social standards of the time in violation of individual rights. There are many situations in which advocates of freedom dislike particular exercises of that freedom but understand that government attacks on individual rights are far more threatening to the public good.

You do not have a right to my services; I have a right to provide my services to whomever I choose. If you believe that your interpretation of public good enables you to bring a gun to the party, you are a bully and a tyrant. So it is with the modern American left, to whom freedom now means only the freedom to do what it is the left wants you to do at point of gun.


Being raised by a lesbian and a bisexual ruined my life: Mary Portas claims motherhood’s better without men. But in this haunting account actress Hetty Baynes Russell disagrees

She nearly missed out on the chance of having an adoring father -- and nothing can replace that happy occurrence

Throughout my childhood it was a morning ritual. On waking, I would skip through to my parents’ bedroom and climb between the sheets for a cup of tea and some snuggles.

How lucky I was to know such consistent affection. While some of my friends struggled to forge a bond with their families, I took this easy intimacy for granted. To me it was entirely normal behaviour.

Only on closer inspection, and with the benefit of hindsight, I can now see this was anything but normal. For on the other side of the bed from my lovely Mummy was not my father, but Mary, my mother’s lover — a formidable and often frightening figure who was very much the ‘man of the house’.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say my mother was a lesbian, as she was completely mad about men too, but Mary completely captivated Mummy.

To this day, describing mother as bisexual — for that is clearly what she was — still makes me feel uncomfortable. This is not through some outdated prudishness: homosexuality, these days, is rightly accepted as natural and I am proud to count a number of gay people among my closest friends.

It is because, back in the 1950s, it was so far from the norm as to be scandalous. And despite spending my entire childhood living cheek-by-jowl with my mother and her lesbian lover, it was not until four decades later that the true exent of their relationship finally came out into the open.

And far from being a healthy, nurturing state of affairs, this arrangement — where I was caught in a destructive, triangular battle for my mother’s affection with another woman, while forced to watch helplessly as my father was emasculated and airbrushed from our lives — was simultaneously damaging and confusing.

Which is why, when I pick up the newspapers to read of retail guru Mary Portas, who has a two-year-old son with her wife Melanie Rickey, saying ‘motherhood is better without men’, my heart sinks. Those words could have come out of the mouths of either of my ‘two mothers’.

Of course, gay people can make fantastic parents. Indeed, who am I to say that an unconventional family unit cannot function effectively just because my own did not? Yet, has there ever been a point in history when parenthood was more bewildering?

With so many people vying for space and prominence within the family, I know, from experience, they can become hotbeds for resentment and jealousies which can cause irreparable, long-term damage to a child.

So how to explain the bizarre construct which passed for my family?

My mother, Margot, was a rare beauty who was never short of male attention.

By the time I came along, she had been married to my father, Leslie Baynes, a world-renowned aeronautical engineer, since the war. They had three girls and a boy before I appeared several years later.

Two years before I was born, my parents took out a lease on a beautiful country property with its own estate in a perfect little corner of Dorset. That was my home and, with eight years between myself and my closest sibling, I was effectively brought up there as an only child.

I adored my father, not that I saw a huge amount of him: he was hugely in demand and terribly busy, so he would be away during the week. But I would wait by the door every Friday, listening out for the sound of his car.

In his absence, another figure came to be of overbearing importance in my mother’s life. She was sculptor Mary Spencer Watson, raised on the same estate by her father, portrait painter George Spencer Watson RA, and named by my parents as my godmother.

I really cannot recall when the takeover happened, but happen it most surely did. For, as early as I can remember, Mary came to share my mother’s bed every night; Daddy had his own room. To my innocent mind, it had been like this for ever, and therefore was entirely normal.

At some point, so early in my life that I cannot remember it, she effectively took over as the man of the house, too.  Masculine to a fault, it was she who did all the odd jobs around the house and took charge of the discipline.

Daddy was sidelined and constantly humiliated, but bore the humiliation in silence. This was an era when same-sex relationships simply did not happen — not out in the open, at least.

Somehow, mostly out of shame, I suspect, my father managed to put up with this bizarre arrangement for the best part of a decade.

While I hung on my gentle, loving father’s every word, I never heard Mary or Mother utter a good word about him. Conflict was for ever bubbling under the surface.

I vividly recall the arguments between Daddy and Mary over who should carve the Sunday roast, for example. What better way to illustrate the power struggle that was happening, insidiuously, under the roof of our home? With my father increasingly absent (who can blame him) Mary became the parent who assumed the duty of driving me around the Dorset countryside for endless ballet lessons and competitions.

I had a ‘career childhood’. From an early age I showed a capacity to dance very well, and my mother’s dream (as well as mine) was that I would become the next Dame Margot Fonteyn. This meant rehearsing relentlessly, resulting in even less time spent with my father.

Then, when I was nine, Mary and Mother took me away from him altogether. I still remember looking out of the car window and seeing tears rolling down his kind, gentle face as we drove away to our new second home in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey — Mary, Mummy and me and three of my older siblings.

They said it was so I could be closer to the Royal Ballet School in Richmond, although I hadn’t even applied at that point, so I know that it was a flimsy excuse. From that point onwards, Mary’s principal role in my family was unquestioned. She and Mother were considered my parents by friends, and in my diaries I referred to them as M². Nobody questioned it, that was just the way it was.

Mary described us as ‘we three’. They held hands, kissed on the lips and behaved just like man and wife. When, confused, I asked where I had come from, my mother told me: ‘God and Mummy made you.’.

Daddy was airbrushed from history, in this as in all matters. Men, in general, were decried as useless, especially in the family context.

If you had asked me during my teens what I thought of the arrangement, I wouldn’t have missed a beat. I was not raised to question it — this was a normal, happy childhood, with the inevitable ups and downs, but plenty of love.

Only now I know it wasn’t.

The damage I had suffered only manifested itself when I was 15 and developed clinical depression and anorexia. From then on, it was a slow process of coming to terms with pain I had buried deep inside my troubled soul.  It was almost as if I carried their shame and acted it out in a self-destructive way.

In my twenties I cultivated an overtly heterosexual blonde bombshell image, and formed a string of inappropriate relationships with men.

I was attracted to father figures, eccentric geniuses, as a rule, and ended up marrying the legendary film director Ken Russell, who died in 2011.  Even more confusingly, Ken and Mary were physically very similar in stature and colouring. What does that say about me?

Yes, I was loved, but at what price? For while I have no doubt that Mary loved me — her maternal instincts outweighed her veneer of masculinity — there was also horrendous jealousy there, which frequently erupted into violence.

She was jealous of me for the same reason she deplored my father. I was the apple of my mother’s eye, and as such perceived as a threat. While Mummy always treated me like a little princess, inevitably my special position in her heart led to conflict with Mary.

She could be terrifying, on one occasion flying at a male suitor —who had taken a shine to my mother — with a carving knife (mercifully, he dodged out of the way in time).

After this incident, I returned home to find Mary on her knees, pleading with Mummy not to throw away what they had together. I was around ten at the time, and no idea what they were talking about.

Most of the time, however, I was on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour (though I must confess to fighting back as hard as my slight frame would allow).

When I was eight we went on a caravan holiday to Scotland. I stumbled into a heated discussion between Mummy and Mary, incurring my godmother’s displeasure. She pushed me backwards so violently I went hurtling through the air, landing outside the caravan, dropping three feet and landing flat on my back, winded and shaken.

A family member shot some footage on a cine-camera of that moment, and, after the holiday it was played backwards, as a comedy moment showing me leaping through the air to land on my feet in the caravan. Only there was nothing funny about what had happened, nothing funny at all.

On another occasion Mary locked me inside a hen house that had no windows when, in her view, I had been naughty.

Unconsciously, I struggled with Mary’s masculinity, which my childlike mind instinctively wanted to challenge. When I was eight or nine years old, I asked Mary what she wanted for Christmas. She asked for a hammer and chisel, so I bought her scented soap.  I so wanted her to be a woman for once.

In any dispute, I was always reminded of where my failings came from: my father.  ‘You’re a Baynes through and through,’ was Mary’s ultimate insult.

I, meanwhile, was denied the opportunity to grieve his loss from the family.

Never mentioned, except in ridicule, not considered necessary or even relevant, my whole relationship with my lovely father was effectively stolen from me.

We did manage to get the relationship back, many years later, when I was in my mid-20s. I was, by this time, in recovery from anorexia and building a successful career as an actress.

It was only then that my father finally told me that my mother and Mary were in a lesbian relationship.  Astonishing as it may sound, this came as a shock to me. It transpired that my father, devastated and furious that he had been ousted from his family, had threatened to reveal all in his divorce papers.

It was only a week before the case was due to go to court that he withdrew his papers, accepting Mummy’s version of events that he had ‘abandoned’ his own family.  He was, after all, a man of standing and the ensuing scandal could have ruined all of them — and he still cared deeply about my mother.

As it was, he ended up bankrupt and living in a shack by the sea. He was broken by the experience — not that I saw one iota of sympathy from Mummy or Mary. They simply dismissed him as being ‘weak’.

Following the revelation about their true relationship, I was desperate for answers. But when I confronted Mother and Mary they denied everything. They even went so far as to threaten to sue my father for defamation.

So, the lies, half-truths, confusion and damage were left to fester for many years to come.

My father died in 1989, but at least by then I had the comfort of being reconciled with him and back in regular contact.

Then I made the most shocking discovery of all. In discussion with my therapist I uncovered the repressed memory which went to explain so much about my emotional turmoil.

Amid huge upset, I suddenly remembered something I had witnessed at the age of four, when I stumbled across my mother and Mary being intimate together.

I cannot go into details — it is too upsetting — but I can vividly recall them sitting me down afterwards and saying how important it was that I should never mention what I had seen to anybody.

Mary finally admitted her relationship with my mother in 2006, shortly before her death.  By now my mother was deep in Alzheimer’s, and while she outlived her lover by a couple of years, she had long since retreated into a world of her own.

Mary told me of her chronic shame, and I did my best to reassure her: there was nothing wrong with their love — it was the lies and their cruel dismissal of my father that was the real problem.

It came as a relief to finally hear the real truth, but I can’t help wondering about the difference it would have made to all our lives if it had come out 20 years earlier.

Ken and I had one son together, Rex, now 22, before we split in 1999, and he is the light of my life. So it is not as if my own experiences put me off motherhood. I did, however, learn a lot of lessons about parenting the hard way.

I believe that if there is room for all parties involved to love each other unconditionally, then any family set-up can work.

But sometimes — frighteningly often, in fact — unconventional parental relationships end up being hotbeds of jealousy and confusion that are damaging to children.

That has been the problem for me all of my life: despite the enormous amount of privilege I enjoyed, it was a life of confusion and a lack of emotional security.

And that is why I was in therapy for so many years, trying to make sense of it all.

So by all means roll the dice, ladies and gentlemen, but don’t kid yourself about the fact you are taking a chance with an innocent life.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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