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Accused couple to learn in May if they face trial over sex slavery claims

A couple accused of keeping two women as sex slaves in their home for more than a decade should find out next month if they will be sent for trial.

While 57-year-old Keith Baker appeared at Craigavon Magistrates Court by video-link yesterday, with just his right arm on screen due to problems getting his mobility scooter into the room, his wife Caroline appeared in person to hear District Judge Mervyn Bates list their preliminary enquiry at the end of next month, potentially committing them to the Crown Court for trial at that stage.

Keith Baker is accused of subjecting two women, including one with severe learning disabilities, to a shocking catalogue of rape, sexual and domestic abuse.

He faces a total of 15 counts including five of rape, aiding and abetting gang rape, three sexual assaults, two of voyeurism, two false imprisonment charges, one indecent assault and a count of human trafficking within the UK, with all the offences alleged to have occurred on dates between January 1999 and January 21 last year.

It has been alleged that Baker held one of the women in squalid conditions over a 10-year period where he repeatedly sexually abused her, along with his wife, and that he filmed sexual abuse carried out on the woman by a "number of unknown men".

His 51-year-old wife also faces a string of sex charges including falsely and injuriously imprisoning the same woman between January 2004 and December 2012.

She is also accused of a total of eight sexual offences which involve allegedly having carried out or encouraged acts of sexual assault in the knowledge the victim was unable to refuse due to her learning disability.

A previous court heard how in the police view, Mr Baker had exerted "manipulation and control" over the two victims who had suffered years of "domestic and sexual abuse" at his hands.

During searches of their home at Drumellen Mews in Craigavon, laptop computers, cameras, recording equipment and mobile phones were seized by police, along with video footage allegedly showing sex acts involving both victims, their alleged captor, his wife and other unidentified men.

It has been claimed that one of the alleged victims, a malnourished English woman with severe learning disabilities, had been raped repeatedly and imprisoned for nearly a decade at the specially adapted house where the Bakers lived, while the other alleged victim, a married woman said to have gone missing from her home in 2004, only had one sound tooth and weighed just six stone after being kept locked in a sparse, unlit bedroom with no inside door handle.

The Bakers claim that any sexual acts were consensual.

District Judge Mervyn Bates remanded Mr Baker back into custody and released his wife on continuing bail.

Belfast Telegraph