Willaston woman Gayle Newland had been duping women into online relationships long before she tricked her friend into sex using a prosthetic penis.
The former University of Chester student developed a sinister pattern of deception centring around the fake persona of a man named Kye Fortune, investigating police officers uncovered.
Newland, 27, has been convicted again following a retrial of posing as Kye and persuading the victim to wear a blindfold and mask because he was embarrassed about his frail appearance following cancer treatment.
She used bandages and a swimsuit to hide her body, claiming they were related to Kye’s treatment, before using the strap-on sex-toy to penetrate the victim.
During the trial Newland, of Hooton Road in Willaston explained how she started pretending to be a boy online from the age of 13, and developed the Kye profile at 15 using stolen pictures of an American man, reports the Liverpool Echo .
When her barrister, Nigel Power, QC, asked her to explain why she hid her identity online, she replied: “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.
“I was completely out of my comfort zone; they were from a different background and I could not relate to them. I knew I was attracted to girls, but I didn’t know what that meant. That was one reason, I was more comfortable.”
A retrial at Manchester Crown Court heard the statement of a second woman, who was also fooled into falling in love with Newland’s creation.
One text from the witness to Kye, read in court, said: “It’s times like this I wish I was not in love with a f****** ghost.”
The witness described accepting a friend request from the Kye Fortune Facebook profile in 2009, describing him as “good looking.”
She told police: “Kye had a detailed profile page with a lot of pictures, and lots of comments from girls. I thought he seemed quite popular, especially with girls.”
The pair became close chatting online before exchanging phone numbers.
The witness said: “I noticed his voice was quite high-pitched. I initially asked ‘how old are you?’ He explained he was not blessed with a deep voice.”
She told detectives that Kye even forwarded her naked pictures of a woman who turned out to be the victim of the sexual assaults.
She said: “He bragged about it on the phone and he seemed quite smug.”
By May 2011, the witness says she told Kye she loved him and believed the pair would end up in a relationship.
She said: “I suggested we meet up and go on a date...I was willing to travel to meet up... He told me he had issues with social anxiety as an excuse as to why he couldn’t meet me in person.
“He told me he took sleeping pills, he told me he had been fostered and his mum had strangled him as a child and that was why his voice was so high.”
The witness said she grew suspicious leading to the pair drifting apart.
But Kye dropped the bombshell that one of the reasons for his reluctance to meet was that he was seriously ill with cancer – a trick also used on the other victim.
The witness said: “I did feel sorry for him but I felt it was a bit off that he hadn’t told me. I thought he was telling the truth.”
The woman said she became close to Kye again, with the pair now using the video messaging service Facetime to continue their relationship.
She said: “During our conversations my face would be visible on screen for Kye to see. He never showed me his face.
“I would say ‘come on, its called Facetime, show me your face’. He said he was too anxious and stop pressuring me.”
Conversations continued even while Newland was under investigation for the offences leading to her trial.
She said: “Around late 2013 Kye told me how his best friend had fallen in love with him and he had rejected her and this had made her bitter. She had made allegations against him and the police had been to the house.”
Newland’s ruse was finally uncovered in 2014 by her own dog, Gypsy, which the witness had seen on the Facetime camera.
The witness described looking through the Facebook pictures of Kye’s friends, which included a profile for Newland as her true self, and spotting Gypsy in Newland’s pictures.
She said: “I didn’t know what to think. I decided to check by calling Kye’s mobile phone number. I put in a code before dialling to make my number come up as unknown.
“When I called a voice I knew as Kye answered and said ‘hello?’. I said ‘can I speak to Gayle Newland please?’ And the same voice said ‘speaking’. I knew then that Gayle Newland had been pretending to be Kye Fortune.”
Newland had been convicted of three sexual assaults in September 2015, and was jailed for eight years.
However the conviction was quashed and a retrial ordered by the Court of Appeal in 2016, after the bench ruled the original trial judge was “not fair and not balanced” when summing up the evidence to the jury.