A Perthshire woman donned a prosthetic baby bump and faked a pregnancy for months in revenge for being dumped.
Scorned Jaclyn McGowan kept up the bizarre pretence for nine months as she tried to dupe Jamie Aitken and his family into believing she was carrying his child.
On Wednesday at Perth Sheriff Court, McGowan’s solicitor said she had been angry about the way the brief one-night relationship had been abruptly ended.
The court was told that the 36-year-old had garnered pity from Mr Aitken’s parents and had partially turned them against their son as a result of the elaborate scheme.
She told family members the baby was going to be called Noah and was due to be born on March 28 2020.
McGowan was almost rumbled when she was spotted looking “slim and not visibly pregnant” at the trampoline park where Mr Aitken’s brother Corrie worked. She should have been eight months pregnant at the time.
To try and cover her tracks, she purchased a prosthetic baby bump, called to ask the park if it was suitable for pregnant women, and turned up looking “heavily pregnant” a few days later.
Unpaid work order from sheriff
Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said he considered the unusual offence to be at the lower end of what could be described as stalking and ordered her to carry out 150 hours unpaid work in the community.
Fiscal depute Tina Dickie said: “Jamie Aitken said the messages and whole situation were causing disruption to him and his family and he stated he felt like she was turning his family against him.
“The mother states that she and her husband had spoken about the situation and they were concerned at first but began to feel excited at the prospect of having a grandchild and were embracing the whole situation.
“His mother soon realised the accused had an intense dislike for Jamie although she came across as quite nice and polite to her.”
‘So convincing’, said would-be grandmother
Mrs Aitken told police: “She was so convincing I believed her that Jamie was not being supportive and ended up feeling very sorry for her and angry at Jamie.”
Mrs Dickie told the court McGowan and Mr Aitken spent a single drunken night in a hotel after meeting on Tinder and exchanging messages for a few weeks.
She said: “After this event the accused and Mr Aitken continued to message for several days. The accused asked Mr Aitken to meet up again. However, he declined.”
The fake pregnancy was eventually exposed after the due date of March 20 last year came and went with no birth. McGowan was later interviewed by police and made a full confession.
Mrs Dickie added: “She did not give a reason for doing this other than that she wanted to hurt Jamie Aitken for how the relationship ended.”
The court heard how McGowan repeatedly approached members of his family to discuss her “baby” and turned up at his brother’s workplace appearing to be heavily pregnant.
The court was told that McGowan had purchased a fake baby bump which she was wearing under her clothing at the time.
She admitted that between June 1 2019 and February 29 last year she engaged in a course of conduct which caused fear or alarm to a man and members of his family.
McGowan, from Rattray, admitted stalking Mr Aitken by pretending she was pregnant with his child during the bizarre sequence of events.
She sent him a picture of a cot and requested he give her £300 to pay for it, and advised him that she was having miscarriages.
She sent him numerous messages to say he would play no part in her baby’s life and then she contacted his mother Wendy Aitken.
McGowan told Mrs Aitken she was pregnant with her grandchild and sent scan photos and details of fictitious pregnancy-related appointments to her.
‘Caught up in the lie’
Solicitor Mike Tavendale, defending, told the court on Wednesday: “It was a one night stand and was quite obviously an unsatisfactory one.
“Jamie Aitken was extremely drunk and it was immediately regretted by my client and that was simply reinforced in the days following, particularly when she found out she was pregnant.
“Mr Aitken made it abundantly clear to her he did not want a child and wanted nothing to do with it. From that point matters go downhill.
“She then has a miscarriage but maintains the pretence and from there on she gets caught up in the lie. It gets to the point where it is very difficult to go back.”
The court was told that McGowan – who had worked abroad during part of the period – was likely to lose her job as a result of the conviction.
‘It was all lies’ says stalking victim
Jamie Aitken said: “She was full of stories of how I didn’t want to have anything to do with this ‘baby’. It was all lies.
“She was sending me abusive messages, refusing to have anything to do with me but telling my family I was trying to get out of my responsibilities.
“She tried to pit my own family against me. She drew my parents in with her lies. She just concocted this whole world.
“It went on for months, and I didn’t have a decent night’s sleep throughout because I was so worried and confused about everything.
“How could one human being do that to another? I don’t even know why she targeted me.
“I wish I’d never met her,” he said. “I’m embarrassed and upset about it all, and I just want to forget it happened, but I do think it’s important to speak out so she cannot do this again.”
He met McGowan through Tinder in the spring of 2019 and they met for the first time when she came to Dundee to meet him after he had been at a family wedding.
He said: “Maybe she’s been scarred by something from her own life, but it still doesn’t explain what she did. The police found out she’d bought a prosthetic bump online.”