A man who claimed he was sleepwalking when he sexually assaulted his girlfriend’s friend has been found not guilty.
Dale Kelly faces court-mandated hospital treatment after a jury found he was asleep during the alleged attack, clearing him of sexual assault by penetration.
Mr Kelly was acquitted on the grounds of insanity after arguing he had been sleepwalking at the time.
Since childhood, the 21-year-old has experienced episodes of parasomnia, a sleep disorder that can include sleepwalking, York Crown Court heard.
Mr Kelly, who wore a navy suit and blue tie, hung his head and wept as the jury returned its verdict after two hours of deliberation.
The week-long trial heard that Mr Kelly had been clubbing with his friend and the woman before returning to the couple’s house in a taxi one morning in April 2017.
Mr Kelly fell asleep in a taxi and went straight to bed when they arrived home but, about an hour later, the woman awoke to find him in the bed she was sharing with her partner.
She said she believed Mr Kelly had sexually assaulted her and called the police. Mr Kelly said he was dreaming at the time and thought he was with another woman.
He left the house after the incident and messaged his friend a short time later, saying: “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.”
Later tests recorded him as having experienced parasomnia.
Eleanor Fry, for Mr Kelly, said the defendant was unable to say what had taken place because he was asleep at the time.
Judge Simon Hickey described the case as “unusual” and said sentencing options were limited to a hospital order, a supervision order or an absolute discharge.
He said: “This has not been an easy case and not a straightforward case, it is an unusual case.”
The judge adjourned sentencing until a later date so expert advice could be heard.
He said that doctors in the case believed Mr Kelly’s “mental disorder” was treatable and needed to be treated.
He said: “My sentencing options are limited. At the moment I’m leaning towards a hospital order but I will wait to hear what the experts say.”
Mr Kelly, from Dalton-le-Dale, County Durham, was granted conditional bail and will be sentenced on 23 September.
Additional reporting by Press Association