1. ITV Report

'Sleepwalking' rape conviction first in the country

Zack Thompson from Newark has been sentenced to 6 years for raping a 17-year-old Photo: ITV Central

A man from Newark who claimed he was sleepwalking when he raped a 17-year-old girl has been given a 6 year jail term.

Zack Thompson, who's 20, denied the allegations for two-and-a-half years before eventually pleading guilty after an investigation by Nottinghamshire Police.

The force say it's the first conviction of its kind in England.

Thompson raped the girl when he was on holiday in Portugal in September 2009.

He handed himself into police when he returned to the UK after the victim made a complaint against him.

Thompson did not deny committing the crime but refused to take criminal responsibility from the outset, claiming he was sleepwalking and had no memory of the attack.

For the next two-and-a-half years the force launched a thorough investigation calling on experts from across the country to seek advice on the rare nature of using sleepwalking as a criminal defence.

Thompson pleaded guilty after the force successfully challenge that defence.

The police officer who led the investigation said:

"Sleepwalking as a criminal defence had never been successfully challenged in a sexual offence case before. But we could not let that discourage us from doing all we could to achieve justice for a young woman who has been through such a traumatising ordeal."

“Thompson has had nearly three years to admit what he did and accept responsibility, but instead he chose to prolong the suffering and uncertainty for his victim. "

“I’ve seen first hand what she has been through and know that the last two-and-a-half years have had a profound effect on her - the courage and patience she has shown has been astonishing. Today has been a triumph for the British legal system, but more importantly for the victim who has been at the centre of it all.

“I hope that this courageous young lady will now be able to begin to heal and move forward in the knowledge that her attacker is in prison where he belongs.”

– DC Paula Winfield, Nottinghamshire Police