A schoolgirl victim of 20-year-old boyfriend impostor Gemma Barker has spoken for the first time about her ordeal. In March this year Barker was jailed for two-and-a-half years after she dressed as a boy to deceive a string a teenage girls into going on dates with her.
The victims, aged 15 and 16, believed they had found the perfect boyfriends in Connor McCormack and Aaron Lampard – who they believed were their age.
Guildford Crown Court heard how Barker, 20, duped the girls, their parents and police by wearing baggy clothes, hats and speaking in a deeper voice.
Even when one of her alter egos was arrested, it wasn’t until police gave her a male strip search that they realised ‘he’ was in fact a girl. Aaron and Connor were ‘born’ in 2009 when Barker created fake Facebook profiles with which to lure her teenage friends on dates.
Now the details of Barker’s bizarre deception are to be aired for the first time on Channel Four tonight. Despite making national headlines on of Barker’s victims – known as ‘Alice’ – never gave her side of the story when it first broke.
in 2009 Alice – not her real name – came to know Barker, who was two years older, at her school in Middlesex.
She said: ‘You just don’t think, when you meet up with someone, do you, like oh that’s my friend dressed up. Jess (one of Barker’s other victims) only came to our school like in Year 10. We were about 15 at the time, 16. I became really good friends with Jess and then we kind of all started mingling together.
‘I was always better friends with Gemma, and then, like, Jess only became friends with her, like, after me, so I kind of introduced her to Gemma. ‘Because we were young we always used to go on like MSN which is like an instant messenger thing. One day around, we got this like ad like from this guy called Aaron, and I said like, oh hi, who are you? And he told me he was Aaron and that he lived in Epsom.’
‘And we were just talking for like a couple months, whatever, and he was like paying me loads of compliments like that I’m so pretty and everything. He always used to be like, ‘hi Babe’, to me.’
Aaron’s Facebook page showed an attractive young man who also coincidently was a friend of Gemma Barker. Also coincidently Alice revealed that she was encouraged to start online dating Aaron, coincidently again, by Gemma Barker.
Alice said: ‘I saw loads of photographs of Aaron. I thought he was quite good-looking. A couple of months later Gemma said that she actually knew him and that she went round his house all the time, and like was seeing his older brother Jack. I’d never met him at this point.
‘It took a while (to meet up). He wasn’t very like keen about meeting up. I think eventually I like got it into Aaron’s head that he had to meet me, otherwise I wouldn’t talk to him anymore.
‘He was, like, I’m gonna get a taxi to the park near yours. I’ll text you when I’m there. We met at the park near my house, and that was the first time we met. He wore like dark baggy clothes. He wore a hat. He was quite manly in the way she walked- he walked and everything, so I just didn’t think anything of it.
‘It wasn’t till like a couple of weeks till he actually asked me out. He just said, do you actually wanna be my girlfriend? And I was like, yeah. I really liked him. I knew Gemma then for about two years and I didn’t see any physical resemblance within Aaron at all, You just don’t think when you meet up with someone, do you, like, oh that’s my friend dressed up.’
Alice and Aaron began a relationship with Alice agreeing eventually to hand over her innocence to the ‘boy’ she believed she had fallen in love with.
She said: ‘When we obviously first had sex, I thought it was normal to like not wanna take your clothes off, and being in complete darkness.
‘It’s embarrassing like. It was the first time, like, I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t think he did either. But he was nice about it. He didn’t hurt me, so…he was nice. But soon afterwards Alice made a baffling discovery.
She said: “It was just like a normal evening. He was in my brother’s bedroom playing Lego with him, and he asked me to find his keys for him, and he told me they were on the side. But they weren’t, so I just thought, oh I’ll just look in his bag.
‘And I just saw this like pink dildo in there, and I just completely freaked out. And when he came in I think he knew something was wrong. My face was just completely white.
‘He said that he used it on me once and that was it. I just felt so upset. You don’t expect that to happen like for like your first time.’
Alice drifted apart from Aaron angry and upset about what ‘he’ had done. It was then Barker’s alter ego Connor – who was dating Alice’s friend Jessica – texted Alice to say Aaron had ‘gone through the windscreen’ in a car accident.
Connor texted Alice while he was with Jessica but it was at this time Barker’s deception began to unravel as Connor slept the night at Jessica’s house. Jessica rolled over and realised Connor’s profile looked exactly the same as Aaron’s.
Jessica said: “He fell asleep and there was no way I was gonna be able to sleep after all what he’d done.
‘I had a gut instinct that something was not right, so I turned over to look at his face…and all I saw was the side profile of Aaron! I was so shocked.
‘How can Alice’s boyfriend, who’s meant to be in hospital, be in my bed?
The next morning Connor was gone and did not appear again, but bizarrely Aaron turned up in Alice’s parents’ car as they collected her from school.
Alice said: ‘The next day my dad had come to pick me up from school, and Aaron was actually in the car with him. And I was so annoyed. He had no cuts and bruises on him at all. Nothing. And he just told me that he had whiplash.
‘And I was like, what do you mean? Like he was in hospital wasn’t he? Like you just wouldn’t think someone would lie about that. And then the police got involved.’
In the meantime Jessica had gone to the police to complain that Aaron had sexually assaulted her. The police came out to Alice’s house to hear her side of things.
Alice said: ‘Aaron was actually at my house. Aaron was like really shocked. I just said to him well if you were in hospital, just give them the discharge form.
‘It’s not that hard. And he was like, oh I can’t find it, I can’t find it. And I was like, well what are you gonna do cos you’re gonna get in big trouble.’
Aaron had given the police a false address and so it was Alice that had to arrange to meet up with him, instead, when he arrived it was the police waiting to arrest him.
As the police searched Aaron he refused to remove the hat both he and Connor always wore, when they forced him to remove it it became apparent Aaron was a girl.
Alice said: ‘I don’t think it really sunk in at first. I just thought, oh, what do you mean, my boyfriend’s a girl?! Like it didn’t add up until like I started to think about it like months and months and months in that it actually all did make sense.
‘I said to my own parents, does that make me a lesbian? Am I still a virgin? Like I didn’t like understand where that made me stand.
‘Well…I don’t know (if Gemma was in love with me). She was a good friend to me-as Gemma, but…I wouldn’t like to say. As Aaron, yeah.
‘But I know they’re the same person so, maybe. I don’t know how someone could like pretend that kind of feeling, if you know what I mean.’