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Woman jailed for disguising herself as boy to date her own friends

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A YOUNG woman who disguised herself as a boy to date her own female friends was today jailed for 30 months.

Gemma Barker, who was 19 at the time, gave herself false male identities so she could have sexual encounters with her 15 and 16-year-old victims.

Barker, now 20, of Staines, Middlesex, was told by Judge Peter Moss at Guildford Crown Court in the UK that she would be in custody for the first half of the term and serve the remainder on licence.

He said: "I have concluded that these offences are so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate."

The court heard that Barker introduced herself to the girls by using fake Facebook profiles and wore hats and baggy clothes to hide her true identity when she met them in person.

But one of the girls realised something was wrong when she thought the boy she was having a relationship with looked similar to one the other victim was dating.

The judge said Barker had admitted that the relationships included kissing, cuddling and sexual touching.

He told her: "Nothing that you have ever said to any expert or the police sheds any light on, or provides any understanding of, your motivation for these offences.

"Nor have I nor anyone else seen any flicker of remorse for what you have done."

Barker showed no emotion as she left the dock to start her sentence, to be served at least initially in a young offenders' institution.

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She had previously admitted two counts of sexual assault and one of fraud. The offences took place between November 23 2009 and May 10 2010.

She received 30-month terms for the sexual assaults and three months for the fraud, the sentences to be concurrent.

The judge said Barker's guilty pleas were "a complete reversal of the position you had held up until then", having previously used "persistent lies and denials".

She had committed repeated sexual assaults - up to 20 on one girl, by pretending to be a boy, and perhaps half that number on the other girl, using two more male disguises.

The fraud count related to her having tried to get compensation for having been assaulted and seriously injured by one of her fictitious characters, Luke Jones.

During the hearing, Barker's barrister, Chetna Patel, referred to probation and psychological reports which found she suffers from autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD.

"Miss Barker struggles to understand the motives and the intentions of others," she said, telling the court that her client wanted to become "the perfect boy" for each of the victims.

The judge told Barker: "Your deceptions were entirely responsible for the victims being so utterly and cruelly tricked, they have nothing with which to reproach themselves."

Even experienced police officers who became involved in the case were deceived by her disguise at first, he said.

He added: "The psychological damage to these innocent young women is self-evident."

One said in an impact statement: "Nobody understands what it's like to be told that the person you love and want to spend the rest of your life with is not real.

"I just want to stop hurting.

"What did I ever do wrong to you?

"I felt repulsive and dirty, it made me angry, I wanted to kill myself, because I couldn't cope."

Both victims failed to achieve their GCSE expectations.

"You have adversely touched their lives," the judge told Barker.


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