Stratford pensioner feared death during rape ordeal, court hears


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A pensioner feared she was going to die after she was raped in her bedroom and dumped in a cupboard, a court heard Thursday.

Hazel Backwell, 66, was assaulted in her home in Stratford 16 years ago and died in 2002 having never seen her attacker brought to justice.

Wendell Baker was found not guilty of rape in 1999 after the judge decided the case could not proceed following legal argument.

But he is facing a second trial at the Old Bailey under the double jeopardy law which allows a person cleared of a serious offence to face retrial in certain circumstances.

In a statement read to the court by prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC yesterday, Ms Backwell said she was in “shock” when she woke to find an intruder in her bedroom in January 1997.

She said the man tied her hands behind her back and beat her before she was raped.

“I just thought, ‘finish it, end it, get out’, “ she said.

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“I asked him to help me up but he told me to get up myself.”

After she was attacked, she was left trapped in a cupboard with a vacuum cleaner lodged against the door, jurors heard.

“I thought I was going to die,” she said.

“My breathing had never been so bad.”

Ms Backwell described the intruder to police as a man aged 30 to 40, white, with a slight accent.

However she admitted she had only seen him briefly and was not wearing her glasses, the court heard.

She was only discovered when George Worpole, a married man with whom she began a relationship with in the 1960s and lived in the same street, noticed she had not taken the milk from her doorstep and called police.

The court heard yesterday that samples of Baker’s DNA matched that found on swabs taken from Ms Backwell following the attack with a probability “in the order of one in a billion”.

Baker, 56, from Walthamstow, denies rape.

The trial was adjourned until today.