Belfast Telegraph

Rape-charge woman 'fears attacks'

A Northern Ireland mother accused of sexual offences against a captive mentally disabled woman has been left in "psychological terror" because of attacks on her home, her lawyer told a court.

Caroline Bernadette Baker, 52, and her husband Keith Baker, 58, face a series of sex and false imprisonment charges over eight years between 2004 and 2012, according to documents before Craigavon Crown Court.

Earlier this year windows were broken at Mrs Baker's home. Her barrister Martin O'Rourke said the attacks could escalate into arson if her new address became known.

Mr O'Rourke added: "It is very difficult for anyone to discount such a risk in circumstances where there is a focused attempt to attack the house of the defendant.

"The court will understand the psychological terror that has caused to the occupants of the house where they don't really know what is coming next."

The alleged victim, who is not their daughter, is to undergo psychological assessment by an expert later this month.

According to Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service documents, the couple face charges including false imprisonment, sexual activity involving penetration, inciting a person with a mental disorder to a sex act, indecent assault and rape or aiding and abetting rape.

The charges include intentionally and sexually touching a female in a sexual manner involving penetration, she being unable to refuse because of or for a reason related to a mental disorder while the defendants knew she had a disorder and because of that was likely to be unable to refuse.

Mrs Baker's lawyer said the attacks on her former home continued from February this year when the case had become publicly known, beginning as graffiti and escalating into window breaking, until the defendant left the property in May.

He added the intention was to force her from the area.

"Our concern in this case, and the concern of police, would be that whereas these windows are being smashed and graffiti being put on the walls there is an obvious concern that matters such as that can escalate and arson would be a real concern of the police; that that is how these matters can trespass over a very fine line and that can present a very real risk to the lives of the occupants."

The accused moved from the address last spring and there have been no more attacks at her new property, however she has been given notice to quit and is due to change homes again at the end of this month, her lawyer said.

Judge Patrick Lynch QC said incidents like this had escalated into petrol bombing or pouring petrol through letter boxes in the past.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective constable expressed concern that the seriousness of the attacks had escalated.

The case will be discussed again in November.

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