Tuesday 20 March 2018

An incredible tale, but which part of it is true?

A woman posing as a man had a lengthy affair with a blindfolded girlfriend who never realised the truth, it is alleged. Kim Pilling reports

Gayle Newland
Gayle Newland

Kim Pilling

It's an incredible tale, no matter which way you look at it. And there are just two ways to look at it.

The first is from the point of view of the alleged victim, who, for legal reasons, remains anonymous.

She claims that she had a five-month-long affair in 2013 with a man she met on the internet, a love affair which included full penetrative sex, but that in all that time she never saw his face because he insisted from the beginning that she must wear a blindfold.

This was because the "man," who called himself Kye Fortune and first requested that she befriend him on Facebook in 2011 - purporting to be a half-Filipino, half-Latino young male - claimed that he had been involved in a car accident and that when he went to hospital, doctors discovered he had a brain tumour.

His treatment left him disfigured and he was so self-conscious about this that he could not bear to have her look at him. He was "anxious about the way he looked and "could not walk properly" due to nerve and muscle damage.

The young woman accepted this and entered into this strange relationship, even agreeing to sit side by side on the sofa of an evening with Kye, "watching" television, all the time wearing a mask.

They would spend six or seven hours together most Sundays and never once was the blindfold removed. She told police: "He was saying how much I had helped him get through his illness. (He said) it was a sign, we should get married, we should have kids, we were going to do all sorts of things."

It was months before she finally took off the blindfold and discovered that Kye was a woman - and not just any woman, but a good friend of hers, Gayle Newland, 25, who had in fact vouched for Kye in the past, saying that she knew him.

Worse, the mask came off just after they had had sex. And there in front of the complainant was her female friend wearing a prosthetic penis or "strap-on," as it is more commonly known.

Ms Newland, of Hooton Road, Willaston, is on trial at Chester Crown Court, where she denies five counts of sexual assault between February and June 2013.

The complainant said that the first time they got together, Kye was in the bathroom when she entered a hotel room and the bed was covered with rose petals.

The complainant told the court that she put on the blindfold of a sleeping mask and scarf and that a "shaking" Kye came in and said he had signed himself out of a private hospital in Manchester.

The pair then had sex, she alleges, before Kye said he had to return to hospital.

Further meetings followed where she said sex took place again, but it was on a visit to her flat by Kye that she finally uncovered the truth.

Describing what she said was their last sexual encounter before she went to the police, she said: "When I was having sex, I grabbed for the back of his head and my hand got caught on something. It did not feel right.

"I was sat on the bed, he was standing up. Something in my mind said, 'pull it (the blindfold) off, pull it off.' I just pulled it off. Gayle was just standing there... I just couldn't believe it.

"Straight away she held her hand down over her face and said, 'It's not what you think.'"

The woman was then cross-examined by Nigel Power, for Ms Newland's defence, who asked her if she was trying to disguise her sexuality.

She replied: "I'm comfortable with who I am, I've never needed to disguise anything."

Mr Power said: "You suggested penetrative sex and she (Gayle) said, 'How would we do that?' and you told her to go online."

The woman in tears said: "No I didn't."

But when it came time for Gayle Newland to tell her version of the story to the jury, she outlined a completely different scenario.

Essentially, her case was that the two women had been engaged in consensual role-playing 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, who played along with her online persona. She said she never disguised her appearance when they met as "boyfriend and girlfriend" and the complainant never wore a mask during sex.

Defence Counsel, Mr Power, asked her: "Was this some sort of role play or fantasy?"

The defendant replied: "I think it was a combination of both. Role play and I think sexual fantasy for herself, I think."

She said that Kye and herself shared the same birth date, both liked RnB music and "chick flicks", they had obsessive compulsive disorders and had a dog named Gypsy.

Ms Newland said: "It was like an alter ego almost but the more comfortable it was the more these two people merged into exactly the same person, if that makes sense."

She said the complainant pushed for the eventual first meeting with "Kye" and it was her accuser's idea to create an elaborate story that Kye was not well enough to see her previously because she did not want to reveal Ms Newland's identity to her family and friends.

Ms Newland told the court she had never had intimacy with a woman previously and agreed to go to the complainant's flat as Kye in February 2013. She said: "I felt it was the only way I could properly... well I say properly... be with her, like together.

"I would say girlfriend and girlfriend, but obviously boyfriend and girlfriend."

Mr Power asked: "Were you acting in the role as Kye?"

She replied: "To a degree, but not really. It was not constant. It was like in and out."

Ms Newland said the pair kissed and cuddled but did not have penetrative sex as the complainant alleges.

Newland described her alleged victim as being "very sexual" and denied she had ever told her to wear a blindfold when they met.

Describing their relationship, she said: "She was always quite sexual. I wasn't expecting us to do anything at all.

"She wanted me to touch her. She was the one who told me to go online and buy the strap-on."

Sobbing in the dock, Ms Newland told her defence counsel she had been "in love".

Ms Newland was questioned over why she had sent texts apologising to her alleged victim after her identity had been discovered.

She said: "I felt like I had done something wrong. A part of me believed her when she said she didn't know.

"It sounds so stupid but if she had said I'd done anything I would have apologised. I wanted her in my life. I felt like if she wasn't in my life that was it, I'd be done.

"She was my only chance of being happy and my only chance of being me."

Matthew Corbett-Jones, prosecuting, questioned Ms Newland about the allegations that her victim was blindfolded, which she completely denied.

Ms Newland said: "I think she went along with the fantasy. But no, there was nothing covering up her eyes.

"I'm absolutely certain she could see. I don't see any way she would have worn a blindfold for this entire situation."

The case continues.

Sunday Independent

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