Armagh husband and wife deny sex abuse charges

Keith Baker was brought into court in a wheelchair
Keith Baker was brought into court in a wheelchair

A Co Armagh husband and wife on Thursday denied a catalogue of charges against a mentally disabled woman they allegedly kept captive in their former home for years.

In the dock at Craigavon Crown Court for an arraignment hearing was 52-year-old Caroline Baker.

Husband Keith Baker, 57, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry jail, was wheeled into court flanked by three prison officers, and sat in his wheelchair outside the dock.

The couple are jointly charged with five counts, allegedly committed between March 15, 2004 and December 20, 2012, 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 to sexual activity, and false imprisonment to commit sexual offences.

Keith Baker also denied six further charges of rape against the same alleged victim, while his wife also denied three further charges of aiding and abetting her husband to rape the 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.

On Thursday prosecution QC Toby Hedworth said that the alleged victim was “currently undergoing further psychiatric assessment”. He also told Judge Patrick Lynch QC the prosecution were 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 get under way.

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.