PPS may appeal sentences for Craigavon sex slave couple

The room where the woman was held
The room where the woman was held

Prosecutors are considering appealing against the sentences of a couple convicted of sexually abusing a mentally disabled woman whilst holding her captive in Craigavon for eight years.

Guernsey man Keith Baker was jailed for 15 years on a 10 charges, mainly rapes, whilst another two charges – including one of false imprisonment – were left on the books.

His wife Caroline was convicted of seven charges including aiding and abetting rape and was jailed for three years, but will be released after 18 months under licence.

The PPS said that the it is mulling over whether the sentences could be challenged on the basis of being “unduly lenient”.

A PPS spokesman said: “An unduly lenient sentence is one that falls outside the range of sentence that a judge, taking into consideration all relevant factors and having regard to sentencing guidance, could reasonably consider appropriate.”

The pair – who formerly lived in England – had met while they were working for the Salvation Army.

The Christian organisation said on Wednesday that it had no record of the Bakers being employed by them, “which may suggest that they met through an informal voluntary association”.

It said “our safeguarding team is currently looking into this as matter of urgency to establish the full facts,” adding: “We abhor their crimes”.

A number of the attacks against the victim were filmed.

Baker (61, and who appeared in court in a wheelchair) held sway over his wife, 54 – plus another partner – through his willingness to resort to violence.

The woman victim was brought to Northern Ireland from England in 2004.

Her learning difficulties were so severe her IQ placed her in the lowest 0.3% of the population.

She did not appear on the electoral register, was not with a GP or dentist and never claimed benefits.

Neighbours in the terrace where they lived (which had also been home to several children) did not know the woman was there.

Suffolk Police said the victim was reported as missing by her husband on March 15, 2004.

A spokeswoman added: “On 16 March, 2004, police took a call from a woman who said her husband had reported her as missing.

“She told officers she was not missing but was on holiday with a friend.

“Police updated her husband to this effect and, as a result, inquiries were concluded.

“The woman used the mobile phone linked to the missing woman and there was no indication at the time to suggest that she was anyone but the named individual.”

The alarm was raised in 2012 by a woman called Mandy Highfield, the mother of four of Baker’s children, who had also lived with the married pair.

According to the BBC, she said that she knew nothing of the sexual abuse of the woman. She raised the alarm because the squalid conditions in which the victim was being kept “wasn’t fair”.

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

She was so badly emaciated she had only one tooth left once she was rescued by police.

Lord Morrow – DUP chairman who has followed the case for many years – said after the sentencing on Tuesday that the victim had been let down by the authorities, particularly in England, and efforts must continue to find out how she remained in the house undetected for so long.

Read more from him here.