A 21-year-old man was asleep when he walked into his friend’s bedroom and sexually assaulted his girlfriend, York Crown Court has been told.

Dale Kelly got into bed with the couple after a night-out, York Crown Court heard.

The woman said she was sexually assaulted by Kelly, who claimed he was dreaming and believed he was with a woman he was dating.

The jury heard that Kelly had been to a nightclub with his friend and the woman before they returned to the house in a taxi.

Kelly fell asleep in the taxi and went straight to bed when they arrived at the house but, around an hour later, the woman awoke to find him in the bed she was sharing with her partner, the court heard.

She said she believed Kelly had sexually assaulted her, the jury heard.

Underwent tests

The court heard that the defendant left the house after the alleged incident and sent a message to his friend a short time later, which read: “I promise right now I have no f***ing clue what’s going on, I’m still wanting to wake up and for this to be in dreamland.”

After his arrest, Kelly underwent tests, during which he experienced episodes of the sleep disorder parasomnia, which can include sleepwalking, the court heard.

The jury heard that experts said the defendant was “possibly” or “likely to be” suffering from parasomnia at the time of the alleged assault but they could not say for certain.

Ian Brook, prosecuting, said Kelly used his previous experience of sleepwalking as a “stock excuse”.


He said: “Was the defendant suffering from a parasomnia at the material time or was he awake?”

He continued: “He undoubtedly does sleepwalk from time-to-time. Has he come to use this as an excuse?”

‘Sex on the mind’

Mr Brook told the jury in his closing speech that Kelly “had sex on the mind” on the night of the alleged assault.

He told the court Kelly took condoms with him on the night-out but did not “pull” and later sent messages to the woman he was dating and three other women on Tinder before he went to bed.

The court heard the complainant may have been the object of a “goal-directed parasomnia”.

Mr Brook said: “Was it unrequited love or lust? Was she a person he was pining after who was taken?”

The barrister said the defendant may have sleepwalked but was awake during the alleged assault. He said:

  • If he had sleepwalked, he had woken up at the material time and was not sleepwalking then. He was not acting as an automaton, robotically.

    He was conscious of what he was doing to her and simply acting out his sexual urges. It was more likely he woke up and took advantage of the situation.

‘Forlorn and subdued’

Eleanor Fry, defending, said the police officer who arrested Kelly shortly after the alleged assault described him as “forlorn and subdued”.

In her defence closing speech, Ms Fry said the defendant could not say what happened that morning.

She told the jury: “He cannot assert positively that he touched the complainant in a particular way and he cannot assert that he did not touch her in a particular way.”

She added: “Not only did Mr Kelly have parasomnia but he was likely to be asleep at the material time.”

Kelly denies sexual assault by penetration.