Sleepwalking Rapist Jailed

6 years for Nottinghamshire man who raped teenager on holiday - claiming he did it when sleepwalking.

A man who claimed he was sleepwalking when he raped a 17-year-old girl has been jailed for six years.

Zack Thompson, 20, maintained his defence for two-and-a-half years before finally admitting he raped the girl at a Portuguese holiday resort in 2009.

Thompson's case is thought to be just the second in Britain, and the first in England, where a sleepwalking defence has been successfully challenged.

Glaswegian man John Docherty was found guilty of attempted murder in 2011 despite claiming he was sleepwalking at the time.

Sentencing Thompson, of Lincoln Street, Newark, at Nottingham Crown Court today, Judge John Milmo QC said his crime has had a devastating effect on the victim.

``She said 'I did nothing wrong', and she was absolutely right,'' the judge said.
``I only hope that today will mark an occasion when she can go back to being the happy young girl she used to be.''

The victim and her family released a joint statement:

It has been exhausting and emotionally draining for us all. We have faced repeated disappointment and countless adjournments at court, which has been extremely frustrating and disheartening. 

Dealing with such a traumatic event changes everything - it has pulled the family apart, but it?s also brought us together and made us stronger as a family too. 

When this happened to her (the victim), she was still a child and struggled to grasp the enormity of what happened to her. 

She has had to grow up very quickly and has had to deal with feelings and emotions that no young woman should have to.  

There are many times over the last two-and-a-half years where we have felt like dropping the case and giving up. But despite the frustration and exhaustion we all felt, we knew there was no other option if we were to achieve justice and prevent the same thing from happening to someone else in the future. 

He (Thompson) could have put an end to this at any point by taking responsibility for what he did. He has been out on bail since his arrest and has enjoyed his freedom - she is the one who has been suffering and living like a prisoner for nearly three years. 

We are thrilled that justice has been done and that he will finally have to pay for what he did - but the ordeal does not end here. We have not walked away from court today free of this nightmare and, though we are hopeful for the future, we are sure our lives will never be the same again.

DC Paula Winfield, who led the investigation, said that Thompson's conviction follows years of relentless work and sheer determination.  

"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."