Court hears accused targeted 'naive' woman in prosthetic penis case
A male impersonator "deliberately targeted" a "naive" woman to dupe her into having sex with her while blindfolded, a court has heard.
In his closing speech to jurors, prosecutor Matthew Corbett-Jones said if they were satisfied that Gayle Newland, 25, had deceived her alleged victim into believing she was a man then she was guilty of sexually assaulting her.
The complainant claims she had intercourse on a number of occasions with a man called Kye Fortune before she finally ripped her mask off and in disbelief saw her friend, Newland, wearing a prosthetic penis.
Newland, 25, told Chester Crown Court the pair were engaging in role play and fantasy as they struggled to accept their sexuality.
She admitted creating a fake Facebook profile in the name of Kye but said she explained this to the defendant from the "get-go", who played along with her online persona for up to two years before they finally met as "man and woman".
Mr Corbett-Jones said: "The issue really comes down to whether or not (the complainant) is telling the truth about her belief that Kye was real and he was the one having sexual intimacy with her.
"She was cross-examined for a number of hours along the lines of she must have known it was a woman and it was preposterous, say the defence, that she believed that Kye was anyone other than Gayle Newland pretending to be Kye.
"We know that the defendant says it goes further than that and she knew from the outset and she (the complainant) then chose to contact Kye.
"(The complainant) says that did not happen and that 'no conversation took place between us and I did not contact Kye, Kye contacted me'.
"The prosecution say that looking at the evidence overall, it is clear that (the complainant) believed she was communicating with a real man.
"You are going to have to use your collective wisdom, and your experience of life, and make a judgment.
"Is it incredible or is there a combination of factors at play here that have allowed this to happen?
"Is (the complainant) a fundamentally gullible and naive girl who the Crown say this defendant deliberately targeted to exploit that vulnerable and naivety?
"The sad truth is that (the complainant) had fallen in love with Kye.
"Her own experience in life had not been kind. She feels she had no experience of real love in her life."
He continued: "Why would she put herself through the excruciating embarrassment of these proceedings, to have her personal life subjected to the sort of scrutiny and judgment that it would inevitably bring with it?
"Why has she brought out all of this into the public?
"The defendant says she doesn't know and that she is possibly struggling with her sexuality. She could have walked away. It was entirely private, no-one would have known a thing.
"She went to the police because she was devastated by what had happened. She has no axe to grind.
"Conversely, I submit, the defendant's explanation for all of this is completely shot through with inconsistencies and lies."
Newland, of Hooton Road, Willaston, denies five counts of sexual assault between February and June 2013.
Nigel Power QC, defending, said the complainant "may be many things but naive is not one of them".
Independent since the age of 15 or 16, she was "certainly not naive sexually" unlike the defendant, the court heard.
He said the prosecution themselves had said it was "an incredible deception" on the face of it and the defence agreed "quite literally".
He said: "The deception as described is incredible, incapable of belief. It is impossible to believe."
He told the jury they were being asked to believe that a "bright" young woman spent hundreds of hours on the telephone to her friend Newland and spent more than 100 hours in her company but never suspected it was her.
And the second proposition was that a sexually experienced woman never realised that a prosthetic penis was being used in intercourse.
"Both of them are ridiculous," said the barrister.
"Those two deceptions lie at the heart of the case. They do seem incredible and the reasons are they are."
He asked the jurors to consider the evidence of both witnesses and to decide where the balance of power lay in the relationship.
He said: "We suggest that if you think about it carefully (the complainant) was calm and confident, perhaps well rehearsed.
"Almost always in control and Gayle Newland was the opposite. She was open, she was nervous, she was anxious, brittle and exposed.
"You may come to the view that both have their vulnerabilites and insecurities but we suggest that your impression of these key personalities in this case is that the balance of power lay very much with (the complainant)."
He said it would be "the end of the case" if any of them thought that "of course she could tell it was a woman".
He said: "We suspect one or two of you at least, and possibly most of you, had that thought come across you some time this week.
"We suggest that gut instinct, human experience, common sense and careful analysis all lead to the same conclusion - of course she knew."
Mr Power said that "rightly" the complainant had the protection of anonymity but it was not "a right or luxury" afforded to the defendant.
He said the "apparent distress" of the complainant was "fake".
She had spoken in a witness impact statement of being "a shell" of her former self, unable to make eye contact with strangers and with no social or work life.
But he reminded the jury that soon after the allegations were made she was making online searches for dating websites and "hooking up" with people she did not know.
Mr Power said Newland gave "convincing, if sometimes emotional, evidence".
"She loved (the complainant)," he said, "but she never set out to meet her as Kye. She resisted long and hard before (the complainant) wore her down.
"It is odd, is is not, that at the heart of this case is a love story.
"(The complainant) loved Kye and Gayle. Gayle certainly loved (the complainant), and Kye the role perhaps gave (the complainant) something to allow her to explore what she otherwise felt unable to do.
"You may come to the conclusion that what you have seen before you in evidence is not one but two troubled souls.
"Only one of them is in the dock. Only of them faces convictions for serious sexual offences. Only one of them had the prospect of two years and two months of build-up to this case with the incredible embarrassment of the Press coverage.
"And only the one gave her evidence in anonymity."
The trial continues on Monday when the judge will sum up the case.