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House of horrors: If evil Baker felt shame he didn’t show it, there wasn’t a flicker of emotion - his wife dabbed at her face with a tissue, but there was no sign of any tears

By Ivan Little

It was a love affair that blossomed within the ranks of the Salvation Army in England, and ended in an Ulster courtroom yesterday as a judge caged Keith and Caroline Baker for their poisonous perversion against a disabled woman in a squalid house in Craigavon, and effectively banned them from ever seeing each other again.

As the monsters of Moyraverty were taken away to serve their sentences for one of the most sickening and sordid series of sex crimes here, wheelchair-bound Keith Baker struggled to snatch one last look at his wife and partner-in-crime in the dock at court number one in Craigavon.

But Caroline Baker, who was told she must never try to make contact with her evil husband again, didn't return his glance as she was shuffled out of court in handcuffs by security staff.

It was a departure that could scarcely have been in starker contrast to the Bakers' entrance into the same courthouse last October when they shared kisses, hugs and laughs before they pleaded guilty to the repeated rape and sexual abuse of a mentally disabled woman over eight years in their home at Drumellan Mews in the Moyraverty estate.

In court yesterday, Caroline Baker stood throughout the 40-minute hearing. She kept her head bowed, staring at the floor, lifting it only slightly to occasionally dab her face with a tissue, though there didn't appear to be any tears in her eyes.

She wore a grey jacket with a flowing red scarf, and she was guarded in the dock by a lone female prison officer.

Just feet away, Keith Baker sat in his wheelchair beside the dock. He wore a beige cardigan and brown trousers, and covered his face with his hand, though he did look up once or twice to hear what Judge Patrick Lynch QC was saying about him in a scathing re-visiting of the accused's 'immoral and depraved' abuse.

If Baker felt shame, he didn't show it. And there wasn't a flicker of emotion as the judge jailed him for 15 years after branding him a Svengali figure.

Mrs Baker, who was described as her husband's pawn, didn't look anywhere near the judge as he sentenced her to three years - half in jail, half out on licence - for her part in the debased attacks on the woman she and her husband kept locked up in what a police officer likened to a jail cell.

There was no heat, no bedclothes, no carpets, no curtains and no lights in what one social worker said was a living hell in Drumellan Mews.

Caroline Baker appeared to be somewhat taken aback as a prison officer slapped handcuffs on her for her journey to Hydebank Women's Prison at Newtownbreda. Another officer had her handbag.

Outside the court, Press photographers and TV crews lined up to try to get pictures of the vile couple who met while they worked as carers for the Salvation Army in England, nearly 40 years ago.

Keith Baker was from Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

The woman who caught his eye was from Northern Ireland, so their move to the province suited well.

Their home in Drumellan Mews proved ideal for their shameful sex attacks.

It consisted of two houses knocked into one and was at the farthest end of the Moyraverty estate, surrounded by walkways and green fields where daffodils swayed in the Spring sunshine yesterday.

But the Bakers' victim rarely, if ever, got the chance to admire her surroundings as she lived round-the-clock in a dirty room from which she had no chance of escape because the inside handle had been removed from the door.

The woman had been brought from England to Drumellan by Baker, whose designs on her were wicked and warped. Aided and abetted by his wife, he turned her into their helpless sex slave. Due to her severe learning difficulties, she didn't have the mental capacity to resist their assaults.

The victim's husband had reported her missing from Suffolk in 2004, but there was little or no chance that she would ever be found in Craigavon, where Social Services and the police didn't even know she existed because she wasn't on any medical, benefits or voting registers. However, the authorities weren't the only ones who were in the dark. The neighbours in Drumellan Mews never saw her either.

But behind the locked doors, the Bakers were regularly subjecting her to every form of degradation they could, often videoing their debauchery with cameras mounted in the tiny bedroom.

In court yesterday, there was stunned silence as Judge Patrick Lynch QC recounted in graphic detail the extent of the abuse committed against the woman by the Bakers, crimes which were too shocking to be reported in the media.

It wasn't until 2012 that the victim's ordeal in what lawyers had dubbed the house of horrors ended, after another woman, named in court as Miss X, who had been living in Moyraverty as Baker's second 'wife', raised the alarm.

The whistleblower, Mandy Highfield, waived her right to anonymity, identifying herself to the BBC and, in an interview yesterday, revealed that Keith Baker had exerted complete control over everyone in the household.

She said she had four children by Baker who beat her and stopped her talking to friends or family. She continued that she couldn't handle the abuse that was being inflicted on the disabled woman in the house, so she told police what was happening.

What the PSNI found in Drumellan Mews shocked even hardened officers and veteran social workers.

The Bakers' victim was horrifically emaciated, with just one sound tooth, and initially, after her rescue, she was too scared to leave the house that had been her prison and where her only toilet was overflowing with human waste.

Her nightmarish existence had, according to one police source, become normal because she knew nothing else.

One of her rare treats was reportedly Quality Street sweets, given to her "if she'd been good".

On a seized computer, the PSNI found hundreds of videos and photographs of the assaults on the victim who, almost unbelievably, didn't know the surname of the Bakers who, at first, told detectives that it was the woman who initiated the sexual engagement, not them.

At one point, Keith Baker even claimed the woman had been very sexually experienced "unlike me".

However, during one sexual assault, captured on camera, Baker was heard telling his victim: "You have learnt quite a bit in the last year."

Police were convinced all along that a "controlling and manipulative" Baker also subjected his wife, the mother of four more of his children, to domestic abuse, and experts who examined her said she was suffering from "battered woman syndrome".

The judge said she'd been abused and humiliated by her husband and he thought she was a victim as well as a perpetrator.

Detectives have described Keith Baker, who's been in the hospital wing at Maghaberry jail since 2013, as a sexually preoccupied deviant.

But Det. Chief Supt. George Clarke, the head of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch, said yesterday there'd been nothing in Keith Baker's past that explained his degenerate behaviour.

Asked if he had been surprised that the Bakers' victim had never come to the notice of the police or Social Services during her incarceration in Moyraverty, he responded: "That's a very hard question to answer.

"I know what it does do is to highlight the fact that we need to be vigilant and we need to think about looking after our neighbours and people living in our communities."

He admitted that the first the police had known about the Bakers' victim was in December 2012 when the whistleblower voiced her concerns about her.

The almost unthinkable reality is that, if Mandy Highfield hadn't alerted the authorities, the victim's terrible torment could still be going on…

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