A Northern Ireland couple who met when they were both working for the Salvation Army were jailed this week for keeping a woman as a sex slave for eight years.
Keith Baker, 61, above, was sentenced to 15 years years and his wife Caroline, 54, received a three-year sentence, 18 months of which will be spent in jail, with the remainder on licence.
Their victim, a disabled woman, was subjected to horrific sexual assaults. She had been held captive in a squalid room without carpet, a light bulb, bedclothes or curtains. The only toilet she had access to was overflowing with human waste.
The couple had taken the woman from her home in England in 2004; she was reported missing by her husband.
She was found by police in Northern Ireland eight years later after another woman, Mandy Highfield, contacted officers. Police rescued her from the couple’s house in Craigavon, County Armagh, in 2012.
The woman, who had severe learning difficulties, was emaciated and had only a single tooth left in her mouth. She weighed just six stone (38kg) when she was found.
Sentencing Keith Baker to 15 years in jail and a further five years on licence after his release, Judge Patrick Lynch QC described the 61-year-old as a “Svengali-type figure” whose wife was:
A pawn doing his bidding.
The couple last month pleaded guilty to a catalogue of charges, including sexual activity involving penetration and causing a person with a mental disorder to engage in sexual activity.
Keith Baker, who was raised in Guernsey and lived most of his life in Kent, was also charged with rape and indecent assault.
The judge said:
Police welcomed the sentencing. Detective Chief Superintendent George Clarke said:
It is not easy to understand how these individuals have 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 the most basic of living standards.
This was an appalling litany of crimes carried out against an extremely vulnerable woman and we welcome today’s outcome. For eight years, these defendants kept this woman imprisoned in a room that could not be opened from inside and sexually abused her, some of which was filmed for their own sexual gratification. There was no door handle on the inside of her room and food was only brought to her occasionally.
Put simply, this was an inhumane way to treat anyone. Her basic human rights were stolen from her by people who can only be described as evil. What she went through is unimaginable and any right minded person will be horrified to hear about the suffering this victim endured at the hands of these cruel people. It doesn’t bear thinking about what this victim endured over the thousands of days she was kept prisoner.
Although it pales to insignificance in comparison to what this victim was forced to endure for years, this has been a difficult, challenging and emotional case for the officers involved. We worked closely with the Public Prosecution Service to build a strong case and I am glad we brought the case to a conclusion for the victim today.
Hat tip: Pasties