A woman who duped her female friend into having sex by pretending to be a man has been jailed for six and a half years.
Gayle Newland, of Willaston, Cheshire, created a ‘disturbingly complex’ online persona to achieve her own ‘bizarre sexual satisfaction’, carrying on the deceit for more than two years.
The 27-year-old was found guilty at a retrial at Manchester Crown Court in June of committing sexual assault by penetration, using a prosthetic penis without her blindfolded victim’s consent.
Newland sobbed and slumped to the floor of the dock as sentence was handed down on Thursday.
She was originally jailed for eight years in November 2015 after she was convicted of the same offences.
But the conviction was later quashed on the grounds that the trial judge’s summing up of the case was not fair and balanced.
Newland received concurrent terms of six years for three counts of sexual assault committed in 2013.
She was handed an extra six months in jail for an offence of fraud committed between March 2014 and September 2015.
Reporting restrictions on the fraud matter were lifted on Thursday by the Recorder of Manchester, Judge David Stockdale QC.
The defendant admitted defrauding her former employers, an internet-based advertising agency, of ‘9,000 by creating fake client profiles.
The retrial jury was not told of the fraud conviction until it had returned its verdicts.
Judge Stockdale told Newland: ‘She (the complainant) did not consent to these invasive acts of penetration because her willing compliance with your abusive behaviour was obtained by a deceit.
‘This was a deceit of such subtlety and cunning in its planning and was a deceit, from your point of view, so successful in its execution that an outsider unaware of the full history of the case might find it difficult to comprehend.
‘But truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction. The truth, the whole truth, here is as surprising as it is profoundly disturbing.’
He went on: ‘It is difficult to conceive of a deceit so degrading or so damaging for the victim upon its discovery.’
Newland had told her victim, also in her 20s, to wear a blindfold at all times when they met at the complainant’s flat.
She created a fictional Facebook profile, pretending to be a half-Filipino half-Latino man called Kye Fortune, using an American man’s photographs and videos.
She spent ‘hundreds’ of hours talking on the telephone to her friend as Kye, telling her ’emotionally vulnerable’ victim ‘he’ was undergoing treatment for cancer and was paranoid about his physical appearance.
The complainant agreed to demands for her to wear a blindfold at all times during up to 15 sexual encounters and while watching television, going on a car journey and even sunbathing.
Newland denied concealing her true identity and claimed both women were gay and struggling with their sexuality when they met and had sex, with her as Kye, during role-play.
The court heard that Newland held a senior position with her unnamed former employer, which paid bloggers to post content.
Simon Medland QC, prosecuting, said Newland ‘manipulated’ the firm’s payments system in which contributors were rewarded with small sums for posting content.
He said: ‘In order for the defendant to make the scam work for her, she needed to create the fake blogger profiles to fool the company’s directors into thinking that the person really existed and had really done the work.
‘It was of sophisticated nature and involved significant planning.’
Newland’s barrister, Nigel Power QC, conceded it was ‘stupid offending’ given that she was on bail at the time while police investigated the sexual allegations made against her.
Judge Stockdale told Newland: ‘You went to extraordinary lengths to manipulate (the complainant) and control her. Only when your control was absolute did you put your deceit to the ultimate test and allow a meeting to take place between her and the fictional Kye Fortune.
‘Such was the desire for one-to-one contact with him that you had engendered she was willing to go to any lengths to meet him. Willing to wear a blindfold, willing to agree to not to look at him at all.
‘She was willing to believe because she wanted to believe that Kye Fortune had a battery of health problems. She was desperate to be with Kye Fortune on your terms.’
A further indication of her cynical powers of manipulation, if they were needed, was evidence of her deceit of three other women by her bogus alter ego, said the judge.
One of the women, who cannot be named for legal reasons, continued to be deceived by Newland just days after police launched their investigation into the 2013 complaint, which the judge said showed ‘a chilling desire’ on her part to control and manipulate the lives of others – although no offences took place.
Judge Stockdale said the complainant’s evidence in court made clear her humiliation, sense of shame and degradation and highlighted the deeply damaging and long-lasting trauma she had suffered.
He said: ‘In her own words, she said the ‘nightmares still remain, the distrust remains and the fear still remains’.’
In extracts read from her most recent victim impact statement, the complainant said the defendant had ‘managed to plague every attempt I have made to make my life positive’ and had left her with ‘this continuous, ominous, unsettling feeling she has planted in what is left of my life’.
‘She has created a prison for the joyful persona I once had,’ she said. ‘I can only hope I can move on fully and not do the time with her.’
Mr Power said that in terms of her sexuality and her sex his client had significant and long-standing mental health problems.
From an early age it was documented she had social anxiety, general anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, an eating disorder and dyspraxia.
But Mr Power said that, more importantly, since her first conviction she had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder.
He said: ‘The defendant now has good insight into those conditions and is obtaining such treatment as she can to help to come to terms with them.
‘She is in a much better position to express herself as she has always wanted to do.
‘The real progress she has made is likely to be diminished if not underdone by returning to prison.’
Asking the judge to consider imposing a suspended sentence, Mr Power pointed out the notoriety of the case alone had provided ‘real and tangible’ punishment to the defendant.
Mr Power continued: ‘Without wishing to add to that notoriety the vast majority of the 11 months she spent in custody placed her in a situation that she found overwhelming and daunting, and almost certainly would not have come about but for the notoriety.’
Judge Stockdale noted that Newland had shown no remorse and maintained her innocence.
He accepted the psychiatric evidence that the risk of any re-offending was ‘very low’ and that her difficult and troubled adolescence together with her psychological and psychiatric conditions were mitigating factors.
But he said: ‘They do not excuse your offending. They do not give you licence to mislead and fabricate as you did and to inflict upon (the complainant) the suffering she has had to endure.’
He noted the character references given to the court by her two brothers and her parents and also an ‘intelligent and articulate’ letter written to him by the defendant herself.
He told her: ‘You have now come to terms fully with your sexuality and you are more content for that.
‘You describe how you will take your life in a different and more constructive direction.
‘You say that you have no bad feelings towards the complainant and wish her nothing but happiness but there remains no acknowledgement of the wrong you did to her.’
The judge explained that by law he could not pass a longer custodial term than the one passed in 2015 because it had been referred back to the Crown Court by the Court of Appeal.
He said she had committed serious sexual offending in a planned and sustained deceit but her health problems were significant mitigating factors.
Newland will also have to sign the Sex Offender Register for life and was also subjected to a life-long Sexual Harm Prevention Order in which among the terms are not befriending anyone by electronic means by using a false identity.