Wednesday 24 May 2017

'Depraved' couple jailed for using disabled woman as their sex slave

The grubby room – complete with CCTV – in the Baker home where the woman was imprisoned Picture: PA
The grubby room – complete with CCTV – in the Baker home where the woman was imprisoned Picture: PA

Ivan Little

A couple who abused a defenceless disabled woman they held as a prisoner and sex slave in their home 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 in Northern Ireland.

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.

Keith Baker was jailed for 15 years Photo: PSNI/PA Wire
Keith Baker was jailed for 15 years Photo: PSNI/PA Wire

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', she was emaciated and had only one sound tooth.

In January 2013, Keith Baker was arrested and claimed he had rescued the victim from an abusive relationship.

Neighbours in Drumellan Mews in the Moyraverty estate told police they didn't even know the woman was in the Bakers' house, which consisted of two dwellings knocked into one.

The court heard how the married woman, who went missing from her home in England in 2004, was brought 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 helpless woman were captured on video, the court heard, for the couple's sexual gratification.

The house was made up of two homes knocked together at Drumellan Mews in Craigavon
Photo: Pacemaker
The house was made up of two homes knocked together at Drumellan Mews in Craigavon Photo: Pacemaker

Read More: Inside the Irish house of horrors where disabled woman was kept as sex slave for years

Judge Patrick Lynch QC said: "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."

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

The judge said: "She lacked the capacity to make decisions and was regarded as a mentally disordered person and did not have capacity to consent to sex."

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

Caroline Baker stood throughout the proceedings with her head bowed.

A CCTV camera in the room where the woman was imprisoned Picture: PA
A CCTV camera in the room where the woman was imprisoned Picture: PA

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 was also charged with rape and indecent assault.

Caroline Baker was charged with aiding and abetting rape and other sexual offences, including indecent assault.

She played a "secondary" role, the judge said, influenced by her husband's domineering personality.

He said she was a pawn under the influence of a very powerful and dominating husband.

Baker was raised in Guernsey and lived most of his life in Kent. He met his wife when they both worked for the Salvation Army.

He was assessed as displaying sexual deviancy and posing a high risk of reoffending.

Detective Chief Superintendent George Clarke, head of the PSNI's public protection branch, said 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 commented.

"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.

The detective said the woman was "much physically better" than she had been, but he added it was very hard to imagine how anyone could come to terms with such a level of cruelty and abuse.

"I'm glad she has been rescued and her suffering has ended," he said.

"But I think we have to reflect on how awful those eight years were for a very vulnerable woman."

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News