• sliderimage

< Back to the latest updates

Sexomnia Defence Successful

 

Senior Crown Court Litigator Lisa Sawyer

Senior Crown Court Litigator Lisa Sawyer based at our Nottingham office, helped achieve trial success after exploring a rather obscure and developing area of defence, sexomnia.

Her client was charged with two counts of rape and multiple sexual assaults. He denied the offences, putting forward a defence of ‘sexomnia’ or ‘sexual behaviour in sleep’.

Expert in Sexomnia

The case involved Lisa instructing perhaps the leading expert in the field, Dr Chris Idzikowski BSc PhD CPsychol FBPsS.  He is President of the Sleep Medicine Section of the Royal Society of Medicine and Director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service.

sexomniaThe area of sleep research and sleep medicine that relate to sexomnia have only evolved recently, and as a result there are no generally accepted methods to investigate whether sleep-related behaviours have lead to criminal charges.  The preparation of this case involved the client as an inpatient for two nights for a study of his sleep patterns.  The expert was then able to consider:

  • whether the client was capable of involuntary behaviour during sleep
  • to review the behaviour alleged and see whether it could have occurred whilst the person was asleep.

Research has shown that many forms of sexual behaviour can occur whilst an individual is asleep.  Generally the behaviour is simple and rarely includes more complex acts such as intercourse.  In this case the client was said to have committed a rape.

For a proper opinion to be given evidence has to be gained from a number of additional sources – usually historical, such as from a partner, previous partners, friend and relatives.  The key witnesses, however, were the client and his then partner.

Favourable conclusion

Dr Idzikowski was able to conclude that the client had a predisposition to involuntary behaviour during sleep, and that factors existing in the client’s personal life at the time may well have led to the behaviour.  The partner being present was a sufficient trigger for the behaviour, and the timing and behaviour was consistent with ‘parasomniac behaviour’, behaviour whilst asleep, or sexomnia.

The Crown Prosecution Service attempted to counter this expert evidence with its own doctor flown in from America to give evidence.

Specialist advocacy from independent counsel

sexomnia crown court trial
Nottingham Crown Court

Following careful handling of the case by specialist advocate Gary Summer of 9 Bedford Row  the client was found not guilty.

The quality of representation may be of particular importance in rape cases as recent research has shown that many jurors have decided on guilt before they reach the retiring room.

Representation under the Crown Court legal aid

The client had the additional benefit of being in receipt of legal aid which meant that ultimately, because he was successful at trial, the preparation and representation was free of charge to him.  This was of particular importance as the expert fees necessary to prepare the case in his behalf were considerable.

Contact a criminal defence specialist

sexomnia
Sleepwalking and automatism

Sleepwalking cases are important and sensitive cases to deal with. Our specialist lawyers can advise you on whether you have a defence, and help you put that defence forward, advising on prospects of success and instructing experts to help along the way.

As a result, if you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about a criminal offence then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.

The advantages of such early legal advice can be found here.

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.  Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

You can read more about the issue of automatism here.

 You can find your nearest office here.

automatism
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can use the contact form below:

Contact

 

© 2019 VHS Fletchers Solicitors | Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority Number 488216