An appeals court has turned over the conviction against Gayle Newland over allegations that the judge presiding over the case was not ‘properly fair and balanced’.
The defendant was originally found guilty of three counts of sexual assault over the 2013 incidents, while both her and the alleged victim were studying at the University of Chester.
Newland was accused of impersonating a man to have sex with her female friend, a feat she pulled off multiple times using a variety of disguises including a fake identity, a prosthetic penis, and a curve suppressing bathing suit.
Her alleged victim – a woman who cannot be named for legal reasons – had told Chester Crown Court that she had embarked on a relationship with a man that she met on Facebook, who used the name Kye Fortune.
The woman told the court that when meeting up with Fortune in real life to have consensual sex, she was convinced to wear a blindfold at all times during sex sessions, because Fortune claimed to have insecurities about his appearance.
However, after meeting up on a number of occasions, the woman tore off the blindfold during a sexual encounter – and was shocked find not her supposed boyfriend, but Newland allegedly penetrating her with a prosthetic penis.
The woman claims that Newland had manufactured the fake identity, and disguised her appearance by binding her breasts and wearing a hat, in order to pass as the fictional man and trick her into sex.
A petition to release Newland corroborated her side of the story, arguing:
The truth is Gayle was nothing but loyal, caring and passionate towards her lover, who knew who she truly was. Gayle is a beautiful girl, she didn’t have any reason to hide behind a false identity in order to pursue the affectionate relationship she had with the claimant. Gayle is now open about her sexuality and has been for some time. However, this was not the case during the time she and her partner were together.
Both agreed to keep their sexuality and relationship secret in order to process the situation as well as their feelings towards one another, without outside judgement. Towards the end of their relationship Gayle eventually admitted to her partner that she wished to open up about herself to her parents.
This sparked an argument between Gayle and the claimant and a couple days later the police had gotten involved, hence the beginning of the case. It is obvious that the claimant was terrified that the truth about her sexuality would come out and, likely out of desperation, would go to extreme lengths to deny being sexually involved with a female.”
Newland was initially jailed for eight years, but challenged the conviction in an appeal.
Now, Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice King and Mr Justice Dove, have quashed her conviction and agreed to release her on bail.
Newland’s lawyer had argued the previous conviction was “unsafe” as the trial judge had neglected to be ‘properly fair and balanced’ while summing up the case for the jury.
A retrial has been ordered, though no date has been set.