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Thursday 22 June 2017

House of horrors - Couple jailed for keeping disabled woman locked up to use as a ‘sex slave’

Keith Baker kept his victim locked in the room and subjected her to sexual assaults, which he recorded. Photo: PSNI/PA Wire
Keith Baker kept his victim locked in the room and subjected her to sexual assaults, which he recorded. Photo: PSNI/PA Wire

A couple who sexually abused a defenceless disabled woman while holding her as a prisoner and sex slave in their home in Northern Ireland for eight years have been jailed.

A senior police officer said the evil attacks carried out by Keith and Caroline Baker were unprecedented in their depravity.

Keith Baker (61), who was described as a "Svengali figure", was sentenced to 15 years and his 54-year-old wife, who was likened to his "pawn", was jailed for three years.

The couple had pleaded guilty to raping and sexually abusing their victim, who had severe learning difficulties.

She was kept in a room with no handle on the inside of the door and was so poorly fed that when she was eventually rescued in 2012, from what the court heard was "a house of horrors", most of her teeth had to be removed.

Filthy

Neighbours in Craigavon, Co Armagh, did not know the woman was in the Bakers' house, which consisted of two dwellings knocked into one.

The court heard that the married woman, who went missing from her home in England in 2004, was taken to Craigavon by the Bakers, who kept her in a filthy room which had no heat, wallpaper, bedclothes or carpets.

The bathroom floor was covered in human waste and her mattress was badly stained.

Many of the Bakers' sexual assaults on the woman were captured on video, the court heard, for the couple's gratification.

"It is not easy to understand how these individuals have so lost their moral compass that they could subject an individual who clearly exhibited serious mental defects to mistreatment, in sexual terms depriving her of any dignity and even the most basic of living standards," said Judge Patrick Lynch.

Keith Baker. Photo: PSNI/PA Wire
Keith Baker. Photo: PSNI/PA Wire

"Mr Baker presented as a Svengali figure, exercising control on three women based on his dominance, willingness to resort to violence and total immorality."

Keith Baker, who sat in a wheelchair outside the dock at Craigavon Crown Court, was also living with a third woman, who eventually alerted police.

Caroline Baker stood throughout the proceed- ings with her head bowed.

Keith Baker was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a further five on licence after his release.

His wife was jailed for three years, with 18 months' early release under licence.

The Bakers had pleaded guilty to sexual activity involving penetration and causing a person with a mental disorder to engage in sexual activity.

Keith Baker kept his victim locked in the room and subjected her to sexual assaults, which he recorded. Photo: PSNI/PA Wire
Keith Baker kept his victim locked in the room and subjected her to sexual assaults, which he recorded. Photo: PSNI/PA Wire

Keith Baker was also charged with rape and indecent assault.

His wife was charged with aiding and abetting rape and other sexual offences including indecent assault.

A total of eight children also lived in the house, along with the third woman.

The judge said the household was "highly unorthodox" and the victim was totally isolated from the rest of society.

Her words when she was released from captivity were: "Yes, freedom."

Unimaginable

Det Chief Supt George Clarke, head of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch, said the police welcomed the sentences handed down to the Bakers for their "unimaginable and cruel" crimes against a very vulnerable woman who had been deprived of her basic human rights.

"In all my years as a police officer, I struggle to think of more depraved and cruel behaviour meted out by one human being to another," he said.

"I think this has been absolutely unprecedented here - jailing a woman for eight years, treating her in an inhumane fashion and using her for sexual gratification."

He added that the police had no grounds for believing that the victim was sexually abused by anyone other than the Bakers.

Mr Clarke said the woman was "much physically better" than she had been, but he added that it was very hard to imagine how anyone could come to terms with such abuse.

"I'm glad she has been rescued and her suffering has ended, but I think we have to reflect on how awful those eight years were for a very vulnerable woman," he said.

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