- Georgia Bilham, 21, had faced 17 charges of sexually assaulting the 19-year-old
- But a jury took just three hours to throw out all the charges but the first one
She is certainly not the average sex offender.
Posing in a bikini on holiday in Spain with her long blonde hair and tanned skin, or glammed up at sophisticated cocktail bars, 21-year-old Georgia Bilham is clearly used to the attention generated by her looks.
But as a teenager lacking in self-confidence and questioning her sexuality, the garage owner’s daughter created a male alter ego which years later would leave her facing a long time in jail.
While Bilham was yesterday cleared of 16 out of the 17 offences for which she was on trial, she nevertheless faces being placed on the sex offenders’ register.
It is all a far cry from her upbringing in a peaceful Cheshire backwater renowned for its canal and unusual ‘staircase’ locks.
Bilham attended high-achieving Tarporley High School – motto ‘Aspire, learn, achieve’ – less than three miles from her parents’ £400,000 detached home beside the Shropshire Union Canal.
Friends recall her as a ‘tomboy’ in her teens, known by her mother by the androgynous nickname ‘George’ – perhaps a nod to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five character, whose real name was Georgina – and to them as simply ‘G’.
While her hair was always long, she preferred shapeless tracksuits over getting dressed up.
After leaving school, she worked as a housekeeper at the 16th century Swan Hotel in upmarket Tarporley, arriving at 6am to start preparing guests’ rooms.
‘She was very girly in some ways,’ recalled one former colleague today.
‘Georgia always had her eyelashes and her nails done, but she also liked wearing slouchy tracksuits.
‘She was still a bit of a tomboy even then, but facially I can’t understand how anyone could mistake her for a man, she’s so pretty.
‘She was very quiet, she didn’t seem to have many friends, and just got on with the job.
‘Georgia had a stint working front of house but she didn’t seem to have the confidence for it.
‘I couldn’t believe it when I heard what she’d been accused of, it didn’t sound like the Georgia I knew.’
It was while she was still at school that Bilham secretly copied photos of a fellow pupil with blond, spiky hair to create the bogus Snapchat profile George_132X – who was to evolve into George Parry.
Potentially significantly, her relationship with her father, Peter Bilham, was already far closer than that with her mother, Michelle Fisher.
She is the couple’s only child – although Ms Fisher, 57, has a son by a previous relationship.
Georgia told the jury that she and her mother were ‘always falling out’ since she ‘started growing up’.
Her parents split up when she was 12 – Bilham told the jury her mother was ‘the reason’ for the break-up – and initially she lived with Ms Fisher.
By contrast with how she and her father had always been ‘dead close’, relations with her mother have remained ‘bad’, she said.
The feeling is clearly mutual – customers of Mr Bilham’s long-established village garage are informed that outside work he enjoys ‘walking the dog and spending time with my daughter’.
And so it was long-suffering Mr Bilham who was called to rescue Georgia when she crashed her car while in the guise of George Parry, accompanied by ‘his’ unwitting female friend.
At court, the bespectacled, grey-haired 60-year-old was also a constant presence as the extraordinary details of his daughter’s deception were laid out – her mother nowhere to be seen.
Bilham was still at school when she first experimented with turning the online character of George Parry from Birmingham into a real person.
Her explanation of constructing her alter ego was that ‘I just didn’t like myself’ so ‘it just made me feel better’.
As to why the persona was that of a boy, she said that made it ‘more of an escape’, denying being sexually attracted to girls or wanting to transition into a man.
‘George’ said he was linked to drug-dealing Albanians – something Bilham implied was a genuine part of her life at that time.
After swapping messages with the teenager she would later be convicted of sexually assaulting, the pair – whose wider friendship groups overlapped – met up near Chester one night in 2017 and chatted.
The evening was cold so ‘George’ – who kept his hood up in what would later become a pattern throughout – handed the younger girl ‘his’ Hugo Boss jumper and she took it home with her.
However, Bilham claimed the girl then blocked her on social media, telling ‘George’ there was ‘something weird’ about ‘him’.
Messages later resumed, but they did not see one another for around four years, with both having boyfriends in the meantime.
Bilham described their online interaction as a ‘love-hate relationship’ – but said by now they knew each other ‘inside out’ so it was ‘hard to walk away from’.
But it was the acquisition of her driving licence at the age of 19 – and access to her mother’s Ford Focus – which was to enable her to move George Parry on to another level of deception.
In the guise of George, Bilham would pick up the teenager – around a year her junior – and they would drive around for hours.
On around the second encounter, on the night of May 10, 2021, they kissed for the first time – but in the early hours of the following morning, Bilham lost control of the car and went into a hedge.
This was a crucial part of the case against her – police attended and she had to give her real name, although the victim claimed she only heard ‘Georgia Helen’, which is her middle name.
Bilham and the car were picked up by her father, while police gave the girl a lift home.
Central to Bilham’s defence was her contention that the girl must have known her true gender thereafter and knowingly went along with a ‘fiction’.
Giving evidence to Bilham’s trial, PC David Fallows said the alleged victim told him she knew the driver as ‘George’ and they had been messaging online.
The officer confirmed that he had informed her that the person she knew as ‘George’ was actually female.
They drove her home, with the officer describing her as ‘distressed’, ‘crying’ and ‘hunched over in a foetal position’.
Cross-examining him, Bilham’s barrister, Martine Snowdon, asked: ‘As far as you’re concerned, you made sure she knew that George was a female?’
‘Yes,’ PC Fallows replied.
But the prosecution said a doctored screenshot which Bilham sent the teenager suggesting that ‘George’s’ Albanian associates had mistakenly given ‘him’ a female fake ID was enough to assuage her suspicions.
Bilham also insisted her elaborate lies were aimed at hiding her true identity – not at trying to trick the girl into sex.
She said she maintained the pretence to avoid her ‘finding out that it was me’ as friends and family didn’t know about the relationship.
However, she struggled to explain why if that was the case she didn’t attempt the simpler task of creating a female alter ego.
After the crash, they continued seeing each other every few days, walking Bilham’s dog or visiting beauty spots – all with her hood up throughout, she admitted and often, it was alleged, with the short-sighted victim’s glasses off.
Bilham’s explanation was that she could be ‘heavy-handed’ while they were kissing and was worried about breaking them.
It was after driving to the Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen that the victim tried to move to the next step and pull down ‘George’s’ trousers – only for him to ‘start to shake’.
Bilham admitted the incident happened – but insisted the Calvin Klein underwear she was wearing was girls’ ‘knickers’, not boys’ boxer shorts.
They progressed to spending the night at the girl’s family home, with ‘George’ remaining fully clothed with his hood up even while carrying out sex acts on her.
The victim claimed she felt a ‘willy-like figure’ against her leg – but Bilham denied a message to her mother about ‘boxers and socks’ was a confession about using objects to mimic a penis.
Giving evidence in her defence on Monday, she stuck rigidly to her insistence that the teenager saw through her disguise shortly after their first kiss.
‘I think she knew that I was a girl,’ she said.
Bilham faced eight counts of assault by penetration – an offence which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The offence of sexual assault for which she was convicted can carry a ten-year prison sentence – however in the least serious cases, courts can impose a community order.