A man has been cleared of raping a 21 year old after a jury heard he suffers from a sleep disorder that causes him to have sex without knowing about it.
Andrew Machin ,40, himself described the woman as a victim and admitted to the jury she did not consent to sex with him but said he was asleep at the time and had no control over his actions.
He is one of the first men in the UK to be acquitted of a rape charge after raising the defence of sexsomnia.
During the week-long trial Machin of Sherwood Street, Warsop, Notts, denied raping the woman on 27 February 2010. He told the jury how his life had been blighted by sleep problems for over 25 years and said often had sex with his long-term partner Denise Jacks while he was asleep.
Machin, who has not worked for four years following an accident, said he simply wanted to help the 21 year old and had no intention of having sex with her.
He said he assisted the woman while she vomited and then climbed into the double bed and fell asleep alongside her.
“I just wanted to go to sleep. I didn’t know where I was when I woke up. I was all over the place.”
He broke down in tears telling the jury at Lincoln Crown Court “All I wanted to do was help her. I didn’t penetrate her intentionally. I didn’t want to hurt her.
“I feel disgusted. It is difficult to describe how I feel.”
Ms Jacks, 38, said Machin had undressed her in his sleep and then had sex with her without him knowing.
“It’s like he’s hypnotised and someone’s got the remote control on. He’s disgusted with himself. He just can’t help it.”
Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, a psychiatrist from the London Sleep Clinic, who gave evidence for the defence said that sexsomnia and the associated parasomnia conditions arise in cases where there is a family history of sleep disorders.
He said the condition could be triggered by drinking alcohol, sleep deprivation or simply being asleep in close proximity to someone else.
Dr Ebrahim, who was allowed to sit in court to hear evidence before going into the witness box, said “He gives a typical history of someone with parasomnia. Nothing I have heard undermines a diagnosis that he was asleep.”
Michael Auty QC, defending, told the jury “He was in so many ways a genuine knight in shining armour to this woman. Parasomnia is real and for people who suffer from it, it is desperately real.
He added “This is on any view an extremely unusual set of circumstances. There perhaps can be very few instances of an allegation of rape where the defence challenge virtually nothing at all that the victim is actually saying to you.”
The jury deliberated over three days before returning a not guilty verdict.
Machin said later “I am deeply sorry for all the heartache and hurt that has been caused by the unfortunate set of circumstances that were beyond my control.
“There has always been two victims in this case. I am glad that the right decision has been made and now I can get on with my life because the last three years have been a nightmare.
“I would like to thank my family, my partner’s family, my friends, but especially my partner for all their love and support throughout this ordeal.”
The jury heard that the 21 year old , also from Nottinghamshire, was on a girls’ weekend away with nine other women when she travelled to an 80s revival night at the Butlins Holiday Camp at Ingoldmells, in February 2010.
On the first night she went on a seven hour drinking session downing over 20 alcopops and spirits before falling over on the dance floor at a night club within the complex.
She was so drunk she could hardly speak and could not stand up. Machin, who knew some of her friends, assisted her back to her chalet where she was undressed and put to bed by one of her friends.
The 21 year old’s friends agreed that Machin should stay the night in her room in case she was ill and he assisted her when she vomited. She then fell asleep but woke to find Machin naked in her bed having sex with her.
She said “I was still drunk. I started to panic when I realised what was happening. I couldn’t think properly. I put my hands up and shouted to him to stop. I was shaking.”
She said she had never met Machin before and added “If it was sex that I wanted I would have gone out and found it and done it and not said a word to anybody but I didn’t.”
Stephen Lowne, prosecuting, agreed that Machin suffers from a sleep disorder but accused him of lying about the incident and said Machin knew that what he was doing was wrong.