23rd January, 2022
A 33 year-old rapist, Mark Hart, who claimed he was sleepwalking and didn’t know he had attacked a woman has been jailed.
Mark Hart, 33, of North Row, Lazenby, denied one count of rape because he claimed he suffered from ‘sexsomnia’.
He was accused of attacking a woman in Redcar-in-Cleveland in April 2019 but denied knowing anything about it.
But on Friday, he was found guilty by a jury at Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough and now faces nine years in prison.
During the trial, the court heard how the woman had woken up to find Hart assaulting her. She managed to push him off and run for help.
Confronted about what he had done, Hart looked down and said ‘Well, I am naked’.
Prosecutor Paul Cleasby told the jury: ‘It’s obvious she has been traumatised about what has happened.
‘You can’t consent to something when you are asleep. It took her a while to come around and realise what was happening.
‘We have an utterly traumatised complainant who’s devastated by what’s happened to her.’
Tom Mitchell, defending, argued ‘sexsomnia’ was the only explanation for his client’s behaviour that night.
Hart had been examined by two doctors who said the condition is ‘real’. He also pointed to his childhood history of sleep walking.
Mr Mitchell said: ‘If sexsomnia is a possible explanation than Mark Hart can’t be guilty because if you don’t know what you’re doing when you are asleep, you’re not responsible for your actions.’
But the jury took just five hours to find Hart guilty of rape and he was jailed on Friday and has been ordered to sign the sex offenders register indefinitely.
Sarah Nelson, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East, said: ‘Mark Hart has been sentenced for carrying out a rape on a sleeping victim.
‘Over the course of this trial, Hart has forwarded the defence that he himself was sleepwalking at the time of the attack, oblivious to his own actions.
‘However, the Crown Prosecution Service has pieced together evidence from multiple witnesses to show the jury that, despite being under the influence of alcohol, Mark Hart was acutely aware of what he was doing at the time he assaulted his victim.’