Belfast Telegraph

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

By Staff Reporter

The PSNI stumbled upon the Craigavon house of horrors case almost by accident when it was called out to investigate a "domestic row" in January 2013.

It was reported in the Portadown Times that police investigating the claims spoke to someone in the house who innocently pointed them towards the room where the traumatised, disabled woman was incarcerated.

The officers were confronted by a scene described "as the worst case of neglect and cruelty we had ever seen".

The shocking story was broken - "almost inadvertently" - by veteran journalist Victor Gordon when a contact rang him with the details.

"I could scarcely believe it at the time," said Mr Gordon.

"But the police confirmed the bones of the story, that they had freed the imprisoned woman and arrested a 56-year-old man, who turned out to be Keith Baker. The PSNI also told me the reason for the woman's imprisonment was unclear, as she was unable to make herself understood to them when they freed her."

The victim was said to have learning difficulties, which was proven when it was confirmed this week she had an IQ in the mid-50s range.

"I taught children with learning difficulties before I entered journalism, and people in that range can find it very difficult to communicate," said Mr Gordon, who added that he thought the story wasn't followed up by the media because, initially, it appeared to be too far-fetched. "Many readers simply didn't believe it, and some journalists were deeply sceptical," said the reporter.

"I didn't blame them. And as it faded from the radar, I put it to the back of my mind. But then shock after shock emerged during the court case.

"The revelations have been appalling and harrowing to read, and only now do I realise the terrible scoop that I landed almost by chance."

At the time, police confirmed that the Southern Health Trust had been called in to care for the victim.

They added: "Detectives are conducting an investigation into allegations of neglect and abuse. Given the sensitive nature of the investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment any further.

"This is a complex and lengthy investigation and we would ask for the continued support of the community."

The local health trust said at the time: "Trust staff are helping the PSNI with the enquiries on this case, but due to its sensitive nature and our duty to protect confidentiality of our patients and clients, we will not be commenting further."

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