York & North Yorkshire

Sleepwalking man cleared of sexually assaulting woman

Dale Kelly Image copyright Ben Lack
Image caption Dale Kelly sleepwalked into a couple's bedroom when he was staying at the house

A man with a history of sleepwalking has been found not guilty by reason of insanity of sexually assaulting his friend's girlfriend.

Dale Kelly, 21, sleepwalked into the couple's bedroom, got into their bed and touched the woman intimately.

His defence barrister told jurors Kelly could not say what happened as he was asleep at the time.

Judge Simon Hickey told Kelly, of Dalton-le-Dale in County Durham, he was considering a hospital order.

Jurors took just over two hours to decide that Kelly had committed the offence but was suffering from parasomnia at the time - meaning he was not responsible for his actions.

Judge Hickey described it as an "unusual" case and said sentencing options were limited to a hospital order, a supervision order or an absolute discharge

Found in bed

York Crown Court heard Kelly had been to a nightclub with his friend and the woman before they returned to a house in North Yorkshire in a taxi on the morning of 17 April.

Kelly fell asleep in the taxi and went straight to bed when they arrived but about an hour later the woman awoke to find him in the bed she was sharing with her partner.

She said she believed Kelly had sexually assaulted her and called the police.

Eleanor Fry, defending, said Kelly could not say what happened that morning as he was asleep at the time.

The court heard he had suffered from parasomnia since childhood and experts said he was "possibly" or "likely to be" suffering from the sleep disorder at the time of the alleged assault but they could not say for certain.

Judge Hickey said doctors in the case believed Kelly's "mental disorder" was treatable and needed treating.

"At the moment I'm leaning towards a hospital order but I will wait to hear what the experts say," the judge added.

Kelly was granted conditional bail and will be sentenced on 23 September.

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