A dysfunctional lesbian gets over six years in prison for posing as a man and tricking a straight woman into have sex. Why so harsh a sentence when convicted pedophiles are getting less?
By TOM RAWSTHORNE
for the Daily Mail
Abridged by Lasha Darkmoon
with pictures, captions and brief commentary
LESBIAN GAYLE NEWLAND:
“It was just a bit of fun!”
As the jury foreman delivered the guilty verdicts, Gayle Newland shook her head and wailed: “I can’t go back to prison — I can’t.” Three weeks later, she returned to court for sentencing and was told she would be jailed for six-and-a-half years.” Newland once again failed to hold back her emotions, sobbing in the dock and stamping her feet. “No!” she cried out.
While at HMP Low Newton, a maximum security prison near Durham, the 27-year-old Newland spent time on the same wing as mass murderer Rose West. Newland, a privately-educated university graduate, rubbing shoulders with Britain’s most notorious living female killer? How on earth did that happen?
In brief, Newland was jailed for pretending to be a man to trick a female friend into sleeping with her. Posing as a male called Kye Fortune, she went online to seduce a fellow student at the University of Chester.
When they finally met in person, she persuaded her victim to wear a blindfold at all times. Then, maintaining the deceit that she was a man by using a strap-on sex toy, Newland had multiple sex sessions with her.
The victim not only wore the blindfold during sex but also for at least 100 hours when the pair were together — going for drives, sunbathing and even ‘watching’ films. When the student finally ripped off her blindfold, she was horrified to discover Gayle Newland, not Kye, standing in front of her.
Unlike Newland, her attractive 25-year-old victim was not a lesbian. Had she known her lover was another woman, she said, she would never have consented to sex. And it is this which goes to the controversy at the heart of the case.
Newland’s supporters rail both at her conviction and her sentence, branding it ‘shameful’, ‘cruel’ and ‘shocking’. Similar sentiments have been expressed by members of the legal profession, who question how such a deception could merit a sentence that even paedophiles and rapists do not always receive.
They say that a number of similar recent cases show that young men and women — often gay or transgender — are being unfairly treated by the criminal justice system purely because of confusion about their sexuality and gender.
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That Gayle Newland is a complex character there can be no doubt.
Raised in a £500,000 house in Willaston, on the Wirral, she attended £12,400-a-year Queen’s School in Chester paid for by her father Brian, who ran a construction company. (See Gayle Newland, pictured here with her affluent middle-class parents).
At school, she began developing her online alter ego, Kye. At first she used the false name to speak to girls on internet chatrooms, but soon it became part of a bizarre double life, Kye Fortune’s character embellished with an American man’s photographs and videos.
Asked to explain why she hid behind this fake profile, Newland said: “I had gone from primary school where I was happy — a mixed primary school, where all my best friends were boys — to a completely different environment at an all-girls school. There I found myself attracted to girls.”
By the time Newland got to the University of Chester to study creative writing, she had used Kye to dupe unsuspecting girls on more than one occasion, but never before with such devastating effect.
Her victim this time was also at the university. An attractive but vulnerable young woman, she had been brought up in a Methodist family and had recently split from a boyfriend, with whom she had been in an abusive relationship.
She told Manchester Crown Court that Kye first contacted her on Facebook in 2011, claiming he was a fellow student. They spent hours talking, coming to regard each other as boyfriend and girlfriend, despite never having met.
For a year, Kye stalled — claiming to be self-conscious of injuries suffered in a car crash and to be seriously ill with cancer.
After a year, Kye agreed to meet the stranger who had fallen in love with her online, thinking she was a man — but with strict conditions. The stranger would have to put on a blindfold before he entered her room and she could not touch him.
As a precaution, Newland wore a woolly hat, swimsuit and bandaged her chest to hide her breasts. The other woman agreed. She was ‘naive’, she admitted, and also ‘desperate to be loved’.
In this way they would have sex more than ten times.
The victim even agreed to requests to cover her eyes while watching films, eating dinner or sunbathing.
Their relationship progressed in this bizarre way until the summer of 2013, when, during a sex session, she realised Kye actually had long hair. Pulling off her blindfold, she found Newland standing there, sex toy at the ready.
TEN TIMES . . . AND SHE NEVER KNEW WHO WAS MAKING LOVE TO HER!
“There was no point until the day I took the blindfold off that I thought for one second that a woman was the person behind this,” she said.
Shocked, the victim ran out of her own house. Newland followed and CCTV footage showed them rowing in the street. That same evening Newland attempted suicide, jumping off a canal bridge. “I have done something I shouldn’t and now my friend can’t forgive me,” she would subsequently tell police.
The deception, the victim said, had a devastating effect on her life. She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety as a result.
“I hated myself. I felt filthy, disgusting,” she told the court. “There were not enough showers in the world to clean me.”
[LD]: A more recent case of online seduction is perhaps even more bizarre. A 15-year-old boy contacted a female called Marie Dent who also claimed to be 15 years old. After a passionate online courtship, the two agreed to meet. Though the female stranger may have seemed older than she looked, she insisted she was 15 when she met up with the 15-year-old boy for the first time. Sex then took place. On the second occasion, the boy’s mother walked into the boy’s bedroom where the couple were engaged in sex. She was horrified to learn that her teenage son was having sex with a 44-year-old woman who looked at least 10 years older! Here is a recent picture of the ageing cougar who has yet to be sentenced for seducing a minor. [LD]
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In the latest trial, Gayle Newland was convicted by a 11-1 majority verdict of three counts of sexual assault by penetration.
“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 to this case might find the facts difficult to comprehend,” said Judge David Stockdale QC, sentencing her to six years in prison for the assaults.
While the sentence may seem harsh, it is within guidelines for these sorts of offences. Newland perpetrated a deception that lasted for years, did not plead guilty, and had shown no remorse. The impact on the victim also had to be taken into account.
In recent years a number of cases similar to that of Newland have reached the courts. Yet none has resulted in such a lengthy sentence.
Newland herself was said to have had a ‘complex’ psychological background. She’d been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, in which a person can experience distress because there is a mismatch between biological sex and gender identity. She’d also been diagnosed with Asperger’s, a form of autism, as well as eating disorders, anxiety and depression.
But while accepting them as a mitigating factor, the judge said they were ‘not an excuse’ for what she had done.
Because it also emerged during the trial that Newland’s deception of the student was not her only one. Police gathered evidence that, as Kye, she had targeted three other women. The uncontested witness statement of one of them, who began speaking to Kye in 2009, showed a very similar pattern of behaviour.
The witness described falling in love with Kye online but being fobbed off with excuses, including about cancer treatment, whenever she pushed to meet.
Newland made no attempt to meet the woman, but allowed a relationship to develop even in 2014 while on police bail for offences against the original victim.
At the sentencing, it also emerged that Newland had pleaded guilty to an unrelated offence of fraud.
While on bail for the sexual offences, she had defrauded the marketing agency she was working for. Her company paid bloggers to endorse products in online postings, so she pretended to be ten fictional bloggers and invoiced the firm for £9,000 ($12,000).
For this offence she was jailed for an additional six months — meaning that she faces a total of six and a half years in prison.
Even when released, the stigma of what she did will remain with her. Newland was told that she must sign the sex offenders’ register, and remain on it for life.
“Why sex offender?” she tearfully asked from the dock when informed. A question some — but by no means all — will doubtless sympathise with.
“No! no! I can’t go back to prison — I can’t!”
LD: Gayle acted wrongly, but convicted pedophiles and drink-drive road killers are getting far less than six and a half years in prison for their crimes. I regard this as a needlessly draconian sentence. Gayle needs help and understanding, not such a savage punishment. Shame on the judge!