Man ordered to get treatment for sleep disorder after sexually assaulting woman as he slept

A 21-year-old man who sexually touched a woman while he was asleep has been told to undergo a programme to minimise the effects of his rare sleepwalking condition.

Sunday, 6th October 2019, 4:09 pm
Dale Kelly arrives at York Crown Court ahead of sentencing, after the jury found he sexually assaulted a woman but was suffering from the sleep disorder parasomnia at the time and was therefore not responsible for his actions. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Dale Kelly was not conscious when he started touching the woman intimately, York Crown Court heard.

He stood trial earlier this year accused of sexual assault by penetration, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity after a jury ruled he had committed the act, but was not responsible for his actions as he was suffering from the sleep disorder parasomnia at the time.

On Friday, October 4, a judge heard that Kelly's actions also demonstrated sexsomnia - a condition characterised by engaging in sexual acts while asleep.

Dale Kelly arrives at York Crown Court ahead of sentencing, after the jury found he sexually assaulted a woman but was suffering from the sleep disorder parasomnia at the time and was therefore not responsible for his actions. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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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.

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 routine, 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."

Not guilty by 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, who is from Dalton-le-Dale in County Durham, 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.