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Wendell Baker: 'Double jeopardy' pensioner rapist cleared for release


May. 19, 2020

A man convicted of beating and raping a pensioner has been cleared for release from prison by the Parole Board.
Wendell Baker was given a life sentence in 2013 for attacking 66-year-old Hazel Backwell and locking her in a cupboard.
He was ordered to spend at least ten and a half years in prison, after he was tried for a second time under the amended double jeopardy law.
On Friday the Parole Board said it was "satisfied that Mr Baker was suitable for release".
Baker, now 63, beat and raped Mrs Backwell at her home in Stratford, east London, in 1997.
During the court case it was heard that Ms Backwell was found by chance by a neighbour the following evening after Baker locked her in a cupboard.
The attack left her too afraid to continue living alone or go out by herself and she died in 2002 "with a very sad and broken heart", her family said.
Image copyright Metropolitan Police Image caption Hazel Backwell was left too afraid to live alone, following the attack
Baker was found not guilty in 1999 when a judge wrongly ruled his trial could not proceed.
The introduction of the double jeopardy law in 2005 allowed a person cleared of a serious offence to face a retrial in certain circumstances.
A review in 2007 found much of the evidence had been lost or destroyed, and the case was reopened two years later.
Baker, from Walthamstow, north-east London, was arrested in 2011.
He gave further DNA samples matching those found on swabs taken from Mrs Backwell.
In 2014, Baker had his minimum jail term reduced by two years.
He became eligible to be considered for release on 15 March.
The Parole Board, which held a remote hearing to consider the case, said Baker would be subject to strict licence conditions including a curfew and an "enhanced form of supervision or monitoring", once released.
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