Gemma Barker
Gemma Barker

A girl who posed as a boy to date her female friends has been jailed for two and a half years for fraud and sexual assault.

Gemma Barker, now 20, from Staines, Middlesex, created fake Facebook accounts and wore baggy clothes to reinvent herself as teenage boys Connor McCormack and Aaron Lampard to begin relationships with her 15 and 16-year-old victims.

The girls were devastated to discover their "perfect" boyfriend was in reality their friend Gemma.

Guildford crown court heard how Barker wore baggy clothes and hats and spoke in a deeper voice to fool the girls and their parents.

It was only when she was arrested while dressed as a boy and strip-searched by police that the truth came out.

One of her victims told the jury: "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."

The sexual assaults took place in 2009 and 2010.

The elaborate background stories of the fictional characters she invented were outlined in court. One boy had lost his mother in a car accident, the court heard. Of his two made-up brothers, one had leukaemia and the other died by drowning.

Her elaborate charade was only uncovered when she was arrested while in the guise of Aaron Lampard, Ruby Selva, prosecuting, told the court.

"'He' was patted down and searched by officers and taken into custody as a male but it was only as clothes were taken in the custody suite that it became apparent that it was a female - and [it was] this defendant."

Barker admitted kissing, cuddling and sexual touching.

"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," Judge Peter Moss said.

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

"You, as Aaron, played upon [a victim] and her parents' vulnerability by pouring out to them a saga of lies, including that Aaron's mother had been killed in a road traffic accident in America, that his brother had died of leukaemia and that another brother had drowned.

"Your cunning and deceptiveness were entirely responsible for the victims being so utterly and cruelly tricked."

Defending, Chetna Patel said that Barker struggled with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"Miss Barker struggles to understand the motives and the intentions of others," she said. She wanted to become "the perfect boy" for her victims.

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

"You have adversely touched their lives."