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How a woman duped girlfriend into thinking she was male

Gayle Newland Image copyright PA
Image caption Gayle Newland maintained her victim knew she was female all along

A woman who pretended to be a man in order to con a friend into having sex with her has been jailed for eight years. But how could a woman successfully trick another female into thinking she was male?

During Gayle Newland's trial, her victim described her disbelief at finding the man she had been in a relationship with for two years was, in fact, a woman who had been using a prosthetic penis to dupe her into thinking she was having sex with a man.

"For the last two years [she] had fabricated this world around me," she said.

"He - Gayle - pulled the wool over my eyes."

Using the alter-ego Kye Fortune, 25-year-old Newland, who was found guilty of sexual assault, convinced the other woman to wear a blindfold when they met.

The trial, at Chester Crown Court, heard the pair spent more than 100 hours in each other's company in hotels and at the victim's flat, and had sex about 10 times before the other woman realised Newland's true identity.

Newland was branded "highly manipulative, deceitful and scheming" by the judge in the case, while police said she had deliberately targeted a "naive and vulnerable" victim.

But how did she convince her victim to agree to her demands, in a deception Newland's defence team described as "impossible to believe"?

Image copyright Michael Fox/Geograph
Image caption Gayle Newland's victim told Chester Crown Court she had no inkling her partner was a woman

The trial was told "Kye" asked the victim to cover her eyes when they met so she would not see scars he had received in a car accident.

In addition to making her victim wear a blindfold, the prosecution said, Newland went to other lengths to conceal her physical identity when they met and had sex.

As well as wearing a prosthetic penis, Newland taped her breasts down with bandages, wore a swimsuit to flatten her curves and a woollen hat to conceal her long hair, the court was told.

The victim thought Newland's high-pitched voice was down to Kye's supposed Filipino heritage - an identity created on "his" bogus Facebook profile.

'It does look ridiculous'

Newland's defence team told the victim, when she gave evidence during the trial, that she must have known her "boyfriend" - the "man" she had sex with several times - was a woman.

She replied: "Since the first time I wrote to this person on Facebook, I thought it was a male.

"Every time I met up with Kye I either had the mask on already or he would wait outside the door and I would put it on.

"I was so desperate to be loved. It's pathetic, so desperate for love, so desperate.

"If I had realised, there would be no way I would have slept with Gayle again and again. If I had any inkling I was not making love with a man there is no way I would have met her again and let her do it again and again.

"If I could go back and scream at me I would. It does look ridiculous on paper."

Prosecutors said the victim had fallen for Kye, and it was the first time she had experienced "real love in her life."

It is reasoning often used by victims of domestic violence, said Dr Emma Williamson, senior research fellow at Bristol University.

"We all make compromises and that starts to increase, at some point the victim feels they have invested so much they are prepared to keep going so as to not lose what they have already done.

"But they can never give enough, the abuser will never be happy and eventually the victim loses all sense of their life."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Gayle Newland was jailed for eight years on Thursday at Chester Crown Court

But, rather than focus on the victim, Dr Williamson said, the spotlight should be on the perpetrator and their motivations.

"The focus is on the victim being gullible but the question should be how and why the perpetrator would do what they have done," she said.

"There is still an idea that the victim is to blame because they should not put up with it.

"It is very easy to sit on the outside and judge and say 'well I wouldn't do that' but it's very different once you are in that relationship.

"In any relationship, compromises and sacrifices are made but sometimes that can be taken advantage of.

"It is then a process where increasing amounts of control are handed over."

'Telltale signs'

Newland had also contacted other women online, again posing as a man.

In 2011, she set up the bogus Facebook account, using photos stolen from an American man's Myspace page to portray a character she had created at the age of 15 or 16, because she found it difficult to speak to women in real life.

The fictional Kye Fortune shared her date of birth, musical tastes, and also owned a dog named Gypsy.

Entries on the social networking site contained detailed information about the man, including photographs to reinforce the illusion.

This online relationship may have helped Newland to enter the affections of her victim before they even met.

Tony Neate, of Get Safe Online, said the ability to get to know someone over the internet is usually seen as a strength of online dating.

"If you meet someone in a pub or disco you really know nothing about them," he said.

"But online you can spend weeks or months talking to someone, you can research them, so that by the time you do meet you could be best friends.

"You have to remember that not everyone is as honest as you are, but there are usually telltale signs and things you can do to protect yourselves."

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