Wendell Baker convicted in double jeopardy rape case

25/06/2013

Wendell Baker was convicted today at the Central Criminal Court for the rape of Hazel Backwell in January 1997.

Tony Connell, Complex Casework Unit lawyer for CPS London, has been involved in the case for more than 10 years. He said: In 1997 Wendell Baker subjected Hazel Backwell to a horrific sexual assault and he has now been brought to justice.

Not only did he carry out this brutal attack he then locked her in a cupboard, scared and alone, until she was found by the police after they were alerted by a neighbour.

Hazel Backwell died in 2002 and will sadly never see that justice has been served but we hope that Bakers 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.

Although the House of Lords decided that the ruling excluding the DNA evidence at the original trial that led to Bakers acquittal in 1999 was wrong, we were unable to prosecute him again until new double jeopardy legislation allowed us to use the DNA as it had not been adduced in court before.

In August 2011, the DPP gave his consent for the Principal Legal Advisor and an in-house crown advocate to go back to the Court of Appeal and ask the Court to take the exceptional step of quashing the acquittal. 

That was successful, and led to the retrial which has today resulted in the conviction of Wendell Baker for this dreadful crime.

On a personal note, as the lawyer who has covered both trials , and who met Hazel Backwell in 1999 to explain to her why her attacker was freed, I am glad that we have been able to go some way to righting the awful wrong perpetrated upon her.