News Courts

Tuesday 23 September 2014

'Sex slavery' couple deny abuse of disabled woman, court told

John Cassidy

Published 08/08/2014 | 08:20

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A husband and wife have denied a catalogue of sex abuse charges against a mentally disabled woman they allegedly kept captive in their former home for years.

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Husband and wife Keith (57) and Caroline Baker (52) are facing five joint charges, including falsely imprisoning the woman, engaging in sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder, indecent assault, inciting a person with a mental disorder to engage in sexual activity, and false imprisonment to commit sexual offences.

The offences are alleged to have been committed between March 15, 2004 and December 20, 2012.

Caroline Baker appeared in the dock of Craigavon Crown Court for yesterday's arraignment hearing dressed in a black trouser suit, white blouse and lime green scarf. She also denied three further charges of aiding and abetting her husband to rape the alleged victim.

Husband Keith Baker (57), whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, was wheeled into court flanked by three prison officers.

The couple are originally from Co Armagh.

He sat in his wheelchair outside the dock dressed in a grey open neck shirt, grey trousers and slippers throughout the duration of the hearing. Keith Baker also denied six further charges of rape against the same alleged victim.

Previous court hearings heard claims that by "exerting manipulation and control", the couple had managed to keep the vulnerable woman prisoner in squalid conditions, while at the same time also allegedly subjecting her to sexual abuse.

Prosecution QC Toby Hedworth said that the alleged victim was "currently undergoing further psychiatric assessment''. He also told Judge Patrick Lynch QC the prosecution was not seeking to proceed with the trial date of October 6 at this stage as it was "not appropriate''. However, he added that the trial could last between three to four weeks when it does begin.

Martin O'Rourke QC, for Caroline Baker, said he would be seeking medical records from England relating to the alleged victim.

Judge Lynch QC also kept in place a reporting restriction which banned publication of Caroline Baker's current home address and any photographs of her.

The Press prohibition will be reviewed on September 11 when Judge Lynch will hear submissions from her defence team and also legal representatives of the media.

Belfast Telegraph

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