UK

Sleepwalker cleared of sexually assaulting friend’s girlfriend

Dale Kelly was cleared by a jury after unconsciously sexually assaulting a friend's girlfriend
Dale Kelly was cleared by a jury at York Crown Court after unconsciously sexually assaulting a friend’s girlfriend (Picture: Ben Lack/PA)

A man who sexually assaulted his friend’s girlfriend while sleepwalking has been cleared by a jury.

Dale Kelly, 21, had fallen asleep in the spare room of his friend’s house after a drunken night out in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, on April 17, 2017.

A court heard how a short time later he walked into his friend’s bedroom and sexually assaulted his girlfriend as she slept alongside her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend told the jury he was woken up by his girlfriend’s screams, shouting his name, and demanding: ‘Who the f*** is he in our bed?’

He said his girlfriend was ‘in bits’ and said: ‘He’s fingered me, he’s tried to rape me.’

The court heard how Kelly, of Dalton-le-Dale, County Durham, had ‘sex on his mind’ and ‘was looking to get it’, and had been chatting to three different girls on Tinder before falling asleep.

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Kelly, who has since been diagnosed with parasomnia, was found ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ after denying indecent assault by penetration.

Copyright Ben Lack Photography Ltd Dale Kelly leaves York Crown Court today (Tuesday) after he was cleared by a jury of sexually assaulting his friends girlfriend because he was sleepwalking at the time. Pictured leaving court with one of his supporters, believed to be his mother.
Kelly was found ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ (Picture: Ben Lack Photography Ltd)

A jury heard how the victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had been the focus of Kelly’s sexsomnia, or ‘sleep sex’ – an aspect of parasomnia.

The jury decided that Kelly was acting as an automaton in a ‘goal-directed parasomnia’ – or sleepwalking – episode.

Judge Simon Hickey told the York Crown Court jury: ‘This has not been an easy case, and not a straight forward case, it is an unusual case.’

He said he will wait to hear from two experts in parasomnia before sentencing Kelly on September 23.

The judge is considering an absolute discharge, supervision order, or hospital order – where he can be treated for his condition.

Kelly, an apprentice electrician, had been on a night out with two friends and the victim before returning to the three-storey house.

Before they went out, Kelly had picked up four condoms because he intended ‘to pull that night’, prosecutor Ian Brook told York Crown Court.

He had also flirted with his victim, telling her: ‘If he doesn’t want to go out then you can come out with me. I will tell the lads you are my girlfriend to keep them away from you.’

A general view of York Crown Court, York.
A jury at York Crown Court heard he had assaulted the victim while in bed with her boyfriend (Picture: PA)

The drunken group got to bed sometime after 4am, with Kelly sharing the spare bedroom with the male friend on the first floor, before unconsciously targeting the victim.

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Neurologist Dr Neil Munro told the jury Kelly had been clinically tested and had experienced two episodes of parasomnia, which is ‘very rare’ in such conditions.

He said risk factors, such as alcohol, lack of sleep and stress would help to trigger parasomnia.

The trial also heard how Kelly had grabbed his friend’s penis in his sleep.

Kelly told the court: ‘It was a little bit embarrassing but we didn’t take any more notice of it.’

And Kelly had texted a girl friend after he was arrested, stating: ‘I have done it before with a lad.

‘Sometimes when I’m drunk I do things in my sleep. I was in bed with one of my mates and apparently I have tried to grab his c***.’

‘You do not know how scared I am to be in bed with a girl.’

Other male friends described Kelly engaging in ‘sex talk’ with them on the phone as he slept.

Kelly explained during the trial that he had suffered from parasomnia since he was a young child, sleep walking around his home, bed hopping, and drinking from a salad cream bottle while asleep.

Since his arrest he has sought help from his GP and is now seeing a specialist to curb his parasomnia.

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