Dale Kelly, 21, was asleep when he walked into the couple’s bedroom, climbed into their bed and started touching the woman intimately
A man who tried to have sex with his friend’s girlfriend while sleepwalking must warn people of his rare condition if they stay under the same roof as him or face prison, a judge has ruled.
Dale Kelly, of Dalton-le-Dale in County Durham, was asleep when he walked into the couple’s bedroom, climbed into their bed and started touching the woman intimately, York Crown Court heard.
The 21-year-old was found not guilty of sexual assault by penetration by reason of insanity in August this year.
On Friday, a judge heard that Kelly’s actions also demonstrated sexsomnia – a condition characterised by engaging in sexual acts while asleep.
A jury at York Crown Court decided he had committed the offence, but was not responsible for his actions at the time as he was suffering from the sleep disorder parasomnia.
Judge Simon Hickey ruled Kelly, who had been drinking and speaking to women on Tinder before the incident, must comply with a sexual harm prevention order for five years.
Prosecutors explained how, following a night-out, Kelly had sleepwalked into his friend’s bedroom at a house in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, after a night out in Leeds on April 17, 2017.
His victim went to bed with her boyfriend, but woke up at around 6am with Kelly in bed trying to have sex with her.
On Friday, a judge heard that Kelly’s (pictured with a woman believed to be his mother outside York Crown Court today) actions also demonstrated sexsomnia – a condition characterised by engaging in sexual acts while asleep
Kelly had tried to penetrate the victim and claimed he we was woken up by her shouting.
He fled the house and was arrested a short time later. He told police officers he had a history of sleepwalking.
The court was told how Kelly would have had to have climbed up two flights of stairs from where he had been sleeping in order to access the room.
The victim said she believed Kelly had sexually assaulted her, while he said he had been asleep and thought he was with a woman he had been dating.
Judge Simon Hickey ruled Kelly, who had been drinking and speaking to women on Tinder before the incident, must comply with a sexual harm prevention order for five years
After leaving the house shortly afterwards, he texted a friend to say: ‘I promise right now I have no f****** clue what’s going on, I’m still wanting to wake up and for this to be in dreamland.’
WHAT IS PARASOMNIA?
Parasomnias is a category of disorders characterised by unusual behaviour during sleep, such as walking, or even talking.
Less commonly, it takes the form of eating or sexsomnia, which involves undertaking sexual behaviour while asleep.
Whatever form they take, the problem often comes to light only when the patient ends up injuring themselves or their bed partner.
However, some patients are reluctant to seek help, not least due to the risk that doctors may accuse them of deliberately hurting their partner.
Up to two per cent of adults have non-REM parasomnias, which encompass everything from muttering gibberish to preparing a meal.
Rather than occurring while dreaming, these happen in slow-wave sleep, the deep restorative sleep that takes place during the first third of the night.
Most parasomnias, rather than being a reflection of bad habits or poor sleep, are thought to be an early warning sign of a more serious health condition.
Experts have since suggested that it is likely that Kelly was having an episode of parasomnia – a sleep disorder involving abnormal movements or behaviours including sleepwalking – at the time, having first suffered with the condition as a child.
Judge Simon Hickey ordered that Kelly undergo a two-year supervision order, meaning he will undergo an alcohol awareness course and an ‘adapted thinking skills programme’ targeting three areas that exacerbate his condition – namely poor sleep hygiene, alcohol and stress.
Kelly, who had his arms behind his back as he was addressed by the judge, was also given a five-year sexual harm prevention order which bans him from contacting his victim until 2024.
The order also means that, if he stays at a property other than his own in the next five years, he must tell the occupiers of the home of his parasomnia.
Describing the case as ‘very unusual’, Judge Hickey told Kelly: ‘I judge that you do pose a real threat to the female victim and to any person who may be sleeping in the same household as you, because as yet you have yet to undergo treatment.
‘If you breach my order the penalties are severe – you could go to prison for up to five years.’
Giving details of the programme he will undergo, the judge said it was important that it targets alcohol awareness, sleep hygiene and stress, saying: ‘As a young man, these factors in my judgment could easily arise again.’
Kelly, who had his arms behind his back as he was addressed by the judge, was also given a five-year sexual harm prevention order which bans him from contacting his victim until 2024
Not guilty be reason of insanity is a ‘special verdict’, which can be returned when a jury believes that a defendant has committed an act but is suffering from a condition – parasomnia in Kelly’s case – which means they could not have been responsible for their actions at the time.
The court heard how Kelly first started suffering from parasomnia as a child, with family members and friends saying that they had seen him walking around the home while sleeping.
On one occasion when he was a young boy, he is reported to have walked down a flight of stairs, opened and eaten chocolate before returning to bed, all while still asleep.