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Judge calls fake penis woman 'highly manipulative, deceitful and scheming'

Crime WorldBy Sunday World
Photo issued by Cheshire Police of Gayle Newland
Photo issued by Cheshire Police of Gayle Newland

A woman from Cheshire who duped her female friend into having sex by pretending to be a man for two years has been jailed for eight years.

Gayle Newland, 25, of Willaston, disguised her appearance and voice as she persuaded the other woman to put on a blindfold when they met up.

The pair had sex about 10 times until the complainant finally ripped off her mask and in disbelief saw Newland wearing a prosthetic penis.

Sentencing Newland, Judge Roger Dutton labelled her "an intelligent, obsessional, highly manipulative, deceitful, scheming and thoroughly determined young woman".

Newland claimed her accuser, also aged 25, always knew she was pretending to be a man as they engaged in role play while struggling with their sexuality.

She told the trial at Chester Crown Court in September that no blindfold was used and she did not strap bandages to her chest or wear a woollen hat and swimsuit.

But the jury convicted the marketing manager of three counts of sexual assault at the complainant's flat in Chester.

Newland created a bogus Facebook profile in the name of "Kye Fortune" and was then said to have taken on the persona as she mimicked a man to speak many times on the phone with the victim after their first contact in 2011.

The complainant told the jury that when they finally decided to meet in February 2013, "Kye" asked her to wear a blindfold, saying he was insecure about his looks after life-saving brain surgery.

They were said to have spent more than 100 hours together and the encounters would include the complainant wearing a blindfold when they watched television together and on one occasion even when sunbathing.

The judge said: "To successfully pass off a deception of this complexity was a major undertaking involving dedicated mobile phone lines as well as regular texts from you purporting to be Kye's relatives.

"You pursued this course of conduct over a lengthy period during which you played with her affections, acting entirely for your own sexual satisfaction and choosing to ignore the devastating impact that the eventual discovery of the truth would have on her."

Newland wailed as the judge passed sentence and had to be physically forced from the dock by two female officers.

She said "oh my God" as she was led from the courtroom and could then be heard screaming.

Her family and friends were in tears in the public gallery, with her father later visibly angry.

Judge Dutton noted the defendant had sent the complainant "numerous" e-mails apologising for what she had done to her after the mask was ripped off.

He said: "Your defence was that (the complainant) knew who you were from the outset and that this was just role play.

"Those apologies were because you knew the game was up and that your cruel deception had been discovered."

He said he was "quite sure" that the psychological impact upon the complainant was "severe" and would be "long-lasting".

Newland's behaviour amounted to "a callous breach of the trust that your friend had in you", he added.

The judge pointed to Newland's various disorders identified in a psychiatric report including social anxiety disorder, a personality disorder, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

It was said by her counsel, Nigel Power QC, that these were closely linked with her issues of sexuality, with them exacerbating each other.

A history of low self-esteem and "blurred gender lines" added to a "very troubling picture", said the judge.

But he said he did not agree with Mr Power's submission that he could depart from sentencing guidelines in such an exceptional case and not impose an immediate custodial term.

He concluded: "These offences are so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence would in any way properly reflect the serious nature of your conduct.

"As an aspect of mercy I do not increase the starting point beyond eight years."

Newland was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for each count, all to run concurrently.

The prosecution had said it was an "unusual case" set against an "extraordinary background" in which the defendant targeted the "naive and vulnerable" complainant - who said she was not gay - in an elaborate deception.

However Newland's legal team argued the complainant's account was simply "impossible to believe" and that a woman of her sexual experience could not have been tricked into thinking she had had sex with a man.

Newland, of Hooton Road, created the character of Fortune when she was 13 because she found it difficult to speak to girls in real life.

By the age of 15 or 16, she went on to develop a Facebook profile of "half-Filipino, half-Latino" Fortune by downloading photographs from an American man's Myspace page.

Kye and Newland shared the same birth date, both liked RnB music and "chick flicks" and had a dog named Gypsy, the court heard.

Judge Dutton said the creation of the alter ego character was "central to the case".

Facebook entries included the "most detailed information" about the man, his family and friends, together with many dozens of photographs to "back up the illusion", he said.

The complainant believed she was in an online relationship with a boy she liked very much, said the judge, but Newland made regular excuses as to why they could not meet in person.

The judge said: "This involved a complex story about Kye having suffered a disfiguring injury and him being embarrassed at being seen.

"All the time you were successfully convincing (the complainant) that Kye was a man ... as Kye you were telling (the complainant) that the injuries could prove fatal.

"As Gayle you offered her consolation but then as Kye you sent her a (eternity) ring to wear thus taking this cruel and wicked deception to a higher level still.

"Throughout these activities you were so convincing in your cruel deception of her that she believed that she had at last found a man she could love and be with."

The jury heard another woman said she had been duped by Newland into believing she was communicating with a man.

She said she added the "good-looking" Kye as a Facebook friend and an online and phone relationship developed.

The woman suggested to him that they meet up but said he always came up with an excuse before she discovered by chance that Kye was Newland in reality.

Judge Dutton said: "The jury heard of the complex web of lies that deceived her though none of that led to the commission of offences.

"She described herself as feeling stupid, a word that (the complainant) also used about herself."

Matthew Corbett-Jones, prosecuting, read out excerpts from the complainant's victim impact statement.

In it she said she had been "extremely anxious" during and since the court case in which she had to "bare my soul to 12 strangers and the public gallery".

She spoke of being "trapped" and not being able to move on despite the outcome of the trial, saying: "I don't enjoy going out. I think people know it's me.

"Gayle has poisoned my life for four years and I'm now not hopeful for my future. My youth and vitality have been taken. I still feel trapped in this invisible prison that Gayle has been making."

She said had been forced to move from Chester, was unemployed and had been reduced to a "hopeless nothing".

In mitigation, Mr Power handed a number of character references to the judge on behalf of the defendant, who had no previous convictions.

He said one of the particular features of the case was the level of backing Newland still had from her family and supporters.

The publicity of the trial had had a "crushing effect" on her in that it was not just local but national and international.

Mr Power told the judge: "It has caused the defendant to worry if she will ever make new friends again.

"It is not an understatement to say that the publicity is likely to stay with her for life. She will ever be defined by people she meets in future by what they know about her."

He said one of the references made the "poignant point" that the publicity itself was punishment.

He said the psychiatric report had noted Newland's experiences in growing up as being more comfortable with pretending to be a boy, together with her struggle in coming to terms with her sexuality.

She had seen a psychologist for the first time at the age of 15 in which anxiety was diagnosed to the extent that it "exhausted" her, he said.

Mr Power said the offending was now two and a half years ago and there had been no repeat, with the view that the character of Kye was "no longer necessary".

He added that the recent psychiatric report suggested that Newland possibly became dependent on the virtual world to satisfy her need for intimacy and that she became Kye at certain times in her own mind.

"Kye was part of the defendant's life almost certainly because of the psychiatric difficulties she had for a decade," said the barrister.

He said that treatment had been identified which would help address the many problems she faces, with Mr Power telling the court that it may likely be much more effective if she was not in jail.

Arguing against an immediate custodial sentence, Mr Power said the offending had "real and obvious triggers that will never arise again" and was "so clearly linked" to the psychiatric problems the defendant has suffered for so long.

Following sentencing, Detective Inspector Clare Coleman, head of Cheshire Constabulary's Dedicated Rape Unit, said: "The sentence handed down reflects the seriousness of this crime.

"This was a highly elaborate deception where Newland abused the trust that the victim had in her. She has been extremely upset by what has happened and there is no doubt that there will be a lasting psychological impact on her. I would like to thank the victim for her bravery and co-operation throughout the investigation."