Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland house of horrors: Judge drops ban on publishing Caroline Baker pictures

A judge had dropped a reporting restriction banning the publication of photographs of Caroline Baker in the notorious 'house of horrors' case.

Baker (54) along with her 61-year-old husband Keith were sentenced over the repeated rape, sexual abuse and imprisonment of a mentally disabled woman over eight years on Tuesday.

Described as her husband's pawn, she was handed a three-year sentence with 18 months to be spent in jail. Her husband was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The Public Prosecution Service is considering appealing the jail sentences describing them as "unduly lenient".

Prior to the sentencing, the Press had been barred from publishing pictures of her. On Thursday that ban was lifted.

The case was brought forward by a number of media outlets, including the Belfast Telegraph.

A statement from law firm Carson McDowell read: "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. 

"The role of the media has particular importance in ensuring the administration of justice is transparent and publicly administered. 

"The Belfast Telegraph, BBC NI, UTV and the Sunday World in taking this case to protect the right of the public to be fully informed about those persons named in open court involved in serious criminality, have produced a definitive restatement of the importance principle of open justice."

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The court heard how their victim, a married woman, went missing from her home in England in 2004 and was brought to Craigavon by the Bakers who kept her in a filthy room which had no heat, wallpaper, bedclothes or carpets.

She was kept in a room with no handle on the inside of the door, and was so poorly fed that, when she was eventually rescued in 2012 from what the court heard was 'a house of horrors', she was emaciated and had only one sound tooth.

Many of the Bakers' sexual assaults on the helpless woman were captured on video, the court heard, for the couple's sexual gratification.

Judge Patrick Lynch QC 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."

He added: "Mr Baker presented as a Svengali figure, exercising control on three women based on his dominance, willingness to resort to violence and total immorality."

Detective Chief Superintendent George Clarke, head of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch, said police welcomed the sentences handed down to the Bakers for their "unimaginable and cruel" crimes against a very vulnerable woman who had been deprived of her basic human rights.

"In all my years as a police officer, I struggle to think of more depraved and cruel behaviour meted out by one human being to another," he commented.

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