Belfast Telegraph

Unmasked: house of horrors Caroline Baker who helped subject helpless woman to years of sexual abuse

By Adrian Rutherford

This is the face of the woman behind one of Northern Ireland's most shocking sex abuse cases.

Caroline Baker was unmasked yesterday after a legal challenge by media organisations including the Belfast Telegraph.

Earlier this week the 54-year-old was handed a three-year sentence for her part in subjecting a disabled woman to horrific sexual assaults.

Read more: House of horrors: My disbelief at what I'd dug up... by journalist who broke story

Baker and her husband Keith abused their victim, who had severe learning difficulties, keeping her prisoner in a filthy room for years.

Until yesterday a court order banned the media from publishing Caroline Baker's image.

But reporting restrictions were lifted after a joint challenge by the Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life, BBC, UTV and Sunday World.

Olivia O'Kane (below) from Carson McDowell solicitors, who led the challenge, welcomed the ruling.

"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," she said.

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

"The Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life, BBC NI, UTV and 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."

Earlier this week Keith Baker was jailed for 15 years for keeping the victim as a sex slave in a room with no light bulb, carpets or curtains at his filthy house in Craigavon.

His wife was imprisoned for three years - 18 months of which will be on licence.

The Public Prosecution Service is considering whether there is a basis to refer the sentences to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that they may be unduly lenient.

The couple took the woman from her home in England in 2004.

She was found by police in Northern Ireland eight years later after another woman, Mandy Highfield, contacted officers.

Ms Highfield had also lived with Keith Baker and was the mother of four of his children.

Judge Patrick Lynch QC described Keith Baker as a "Svengali-type figure" whose wife was a "pawn doing his bidding".

It emerged in court how the 61-year-old filmed many of his attacks for his own sexual gratification and held sway over his wife and other partner through his willingness to resort to violence and immorality.

The door of the room in which the victim was imprisoned had no handle on the inside and the toilet was overflowing with waste.

The victim was so badly emaciated she had only one tooth left when she was rescued by police in 2012, after Ms Highfield raised the alarm.

The woman's learning difficulties were so severe her IQ placed her in the lowest 0.3% of the population. She was not on the electoral register, with a GP or dentist, and never claimed benefits.

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