Sleepwalker woke stranded on cliff

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The Independent Online
A 34-year-old man who dreamt that he was lying on a tiny ledge woke to find that he was in fact 30 feet up a Devonshire cliff with waves crashing against the rocks below him.

Ian Smith shouted for help for nearly an hour before coastguards came to his aid and eventually ferried him to safety in an inflatable lifeboat.

It seems that Mr Smith had sleep-walked for about half a mile from the hotel where he lives in Torquay to the dangerous position on the 100-foot high cliffs at nearby Corbyn Head. His last memory was being in bed and dreaming about a ledge.

Paul Aggett, Torbay coastguard cliff rescue team leader, said that Mr Smith must have climbed the cliff from the beach, adding: "He was lying down on the ledge when we got to him." One of the team went down from the cliff top to secure the stranded man and lower him into the rescue boat.

Mr Smith was rescued after the alarm had been raised by a family living in nearby Cliff Road. Mrs Catriona Dodge was woken by his shouts just after 2am on Sunday, and her husband Michael and daughter Kirsty, 18, went to investigate.

"He could easily have fallen off," said Mrs Dodge. "He could not get up and could not get down."

After his ordeal in the early hours, Mr Smith told police: "I was almost hoarse from shouting." He added yesterday: "I would like to thank everyone for what they did."