NI couple deny holding woman captive

Thursday 07 August 2014 17.03
The case was adjourned until September
The case was adjourned until September

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

Caroline Baker, 52, was in the dock at Craigavon Crown Court for an arraignment hearing.

Her husband Keith Baker, 57, was brought into court in a wheelchair flanked by three prison officers.

The couple are jointly charged with five counts 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 were allegedly committed between 15 March, 2004 and 20 December, 2012.

Mr 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.

Today prosecution QC Toby Hedworth said that the alleged victim was currently undergoing further psychiatric assessment.

He also told Judge Patrick Lynch QC that the prosecution were not seeking to proceed with the trial date of 6 October at this stage as it was not appropriate.

However, he added that the trial could last between three to four weeks approximately when it does get under way.

Martin O'Rourke QC, for Mrs 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 Mrs Baker's current home address and any photographs of her.

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