“I was naïve..She’s was so so clever”
The channel 4 documentary The Girl Who Became Three Boys tells the bizarre tale of a girl who was jailed for 30 months in March 2012 on a fraud charge and two accounts of sexual assault against her fifteen year old female friends. The offences took place between November 23 2009 and May 10 2010, everyone from the judge, police and journalists agree that the now twenty-one-year-old Gemma Barker’s story of deceit is unique and downright unusual.
What makes the case of Gemma Barker so bizarre is that to perpetrate her crimes she impersonated three different teenage boys, Aaron Lampard, 16, Luke Jones, 17 and Connor McCormack also 16. The boys had their own Facebook pages, mobile numbers and email addresses. They had very different personalities and styles, but always wore hats, which they refused to remove through some excuse; so the girls never got a good look at their faces. One never spoke, only communicated by text, even when sat next to one of the victims.
Victim Jessica Sayers waived her right to anonymity to speak out about the incident, her best friend only known as ‘Alice’ has remained anonymous. Speaking frankly and at times with impeccable comedic timing Jessica describes Gemma Barker, who was two years older as very intelligent and clever, but also material for an Oscar-winning actress.
Gemma was always troubled and attention seeking, stamping her feet to gain what she wanted, she meticulously disguised herself as each identity and created complex relationships online and in person with the victims. Emotionally cajoling the girls with tall tales she engaged in kissing and physical contact with them all while she pretended to be male, extracting information about them from one another in a web of social networking manipulation. She spent hours chatting on MSN Messenger and Facebook, the fake profiles she created used photos of real boys stolen from the internet. Barker spent a small fortune on clothes, aftershave and eventually persuaded the girls to meet her.
The ordeal seems to have made its mark upon these young girls, they were well and truly duped, so you can ask yourself the question? How vulnerable and gullible were these young ladies? How can you not notice that your new boyfriend is actually just a close female friend in disguise? Alice demonstrated that naivety with the quote “I thought it was normal to want to keep all your clothes on during sex, and your hat.” While posing as “Aaron” she was arrested in a park, a strip search at a police station revealed Gemma’s truth, the whole twisted charade soon came tumbling down, along with the long girlish hair she concealed in the hat the police removed from her head.
There is a very basic moral to this fable, just because a person has a Facebook account it doesn’t make them real and it seems more prevalent now than ever to educate the younger generation about the real dangers of people using the internet badly. Some deep and unfathomable issues must have surrounded Gemma Barker’s actions and what could have been her motivations for such destructive and damaging behaviour still remain a mystery.
If you’ve missed The Girl Who Became Three Boys you can catch up at Channel 4oD