Couple deny sex abuse charges

Couple deny sex abuse charges

A husband and wife have denied subjecting a mentally disabled woman to a shocking catalogue of rape and sex abuse while holding her hostage for almost 10 years in a so-called "house of horrors".

While 52-year-old Caroline Baker, wearing a navy jacket, green scarf and white blouse, stood in the dock of Craigavon Crown Court on Thursday, her husband Keith Baker, 57, remained seated in a wheelchair just outside the dock, wearing a grey shirt, brown trousers and slippers while flanked by three prison officers.The Bakers are jointly charged on five counts including the false imprisonment of their alleged victim on dates between 15 March 2004 and 20 December 2012, holding her prisoner with intent to commit a sexual offence, engaging in sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder, indecent assault and inciting a person with a mental disorder to engage in sexual activity, knowing that she had such a disorder and "knowing that because of it she was unlikely to refuse".Speaking in a quiet English accent Keith Baker, whose address was given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, told the court he was "not guilty" of six further charges of raping the same alleged victim, while his wife, speaking with a local accent, denied three counts of "aiding and abetting, counselling and procuring" her husband to rape the victim between the same dates.It has been alleged in previous court hearings that by "exerting manipulation and control" over their victim, she was kept prisoner in squalid conditions for years and was allegedly subjected to numerous bouts of rape and abuse by the married couple.During searches of their former home at Drumellen Mews in Craigavon, which has been described in court as a "house of horrors" and has had the windows and doors repeatedly smashed, laptop computers, cameras, recording equipment and mobile phones were seized by police for examination.The Bakers claim, however, that any sexual acts were consensual.Following their denials on Thursday, senior QCs for the defence and prosecution told Judge Patrick Lynch QC there were still applications to be dealt with before the case would come to trial.Prosecuting QC Toby Hedworth said given that and other medical and psychiatric reports yet to be sought about how the trial would proceed given the alleged victim's mental disorder, "it's not appropriate to seek to find a trial date today," and agreed that the initial date of 6 October was "not realistic".The lawyer indicated that even the trial would take around a month to be heard.Remanding Keith Baker back into custody and releasing his wife on continuing bail, the judge listed the case on 11 September for a review hearing and to discuss how the case will proceed.


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