Revealed: face of Caroline Baker, jailed in Armagh sex-slave case

Media companies challenged ban as concept of justice being done in public is important

A photograph of Caroline Baker which can now be published after a judge  lifted a ban on the media showing her photograph. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan/Photopress

A photograph of Caroline Baker which can now be published after a judge lifted a ban on the media showing her photograph. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan/Photopress

 

A judge in Northern Ireland has lifted a restriction on the media publishing photographs of a woman convicted in a so-called “House of Horrors” sex-slave case in Craigavon, Co Armagh.

On Tuesday, Caroline Baker was given a three-year sentence for her part in subjecting a disabled woman to horrific sexual assaults.

Her husband, Keith Baker, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with another five years on licence.

Reporting restrictions meant the media were barred from publishing any pictures of her at the time of the conviction.

However, on Thursday a judge lifted those restrictions following a joint challenge by media outlets including the Belfast Telegraph, UTV the BBC and the Sunday World.

Olivia O’Kane from Carson McDowell solicitors in Belfast who took the case, said the concept of justice being seen to be done in public was important.

She told The Irish Times media companies had taken the application so the public could be informed.

“The notion that justice must be seen to be done is of significant importance, and the media in acting as the public watchdog, took a media application in this case to ensure that the public could be fully informed,” she said.

During the sentencing on Tuesday judge Patrick Lynch QC said Caroline Baker was under the “psychological hold” of her husband. She was given a three year sentence – 18 months in prison, 18 months released under licence.

One of the conditions of Caroline Baker’s sentence was that she must have no further contact with her husband.

Judge Lynch referred to the “total immorality” of the crimes against their victim and of how Keith Baker came across as a “Svengali figure” with control his wife, the victim and another woman, Miss X, who finally alerted the authorities to the crimes.

“It is not easy to understand how these individuals 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 depriving her of the most basic of living standards,” said the judge.

The victim who has severe learning difficulties was kept by the Bakers at their Craigavon home in a cold, locked room without carpet, a light bulb or bedclothes or curtains.

There was a closed circuit TV suspended from a ceiling where the woman was held. The one toilet she had access to was overflowing with human excrement.

The woman was first brought to Northern Ireland by Keith Baker in 2004. It wasn’t until Christmas 2012 that police rescued her from her sexual incarceration.

She emerged from the home badly confused, weighing just six stone, and with her teeth so badly rotted that she only had one sound tooth. A previous sitting of Craigavon Court was told that Keith Baker’s life was “totally dominated” by his sexual needs and desires.

On Tuesday Caroline Baker, wearing a grey jacket, black slacks and red scarf around her neck stood with her head bent down as Judge Lynch read out the sentence.

She held her right hand to her chest at times as the judgment was read and at times appeared to be quietly crying.

The court had heard how Keith Baker, who is originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, took videos over the years where he can be seen raping the woman.

During many of the assaults Caroline Baker also was involved. Hundreds of indecent images of the woman also were found on Keith Baker’s computer. In one of the videos Keith Baker is heard to say to the victim that she had “learned quite a bit over the last few years”.

Judge Lynch when sentencing on Tuesday said the victim lived “totally isolated from the rest of society”. He noted how neighbours who had visited the Bakers’ house were unaware of her existence.