Rapist insists he had ‘sexsomnia’ when ‘traumatised’ woman woke up to his attack

A rapist claimed he was suffering from "sexsomnia" when he attacked a sleeping woman, leaving her 'traumatised.'

Mark Hart said he was asleep at the time when he raped the victim and had no recollection of the incident.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the woman woke up to find the 33-year-old attacking her in April 2019.

She managed to push Hart off her and run to seek help but when he was confronted about what happened, the defendant reportedly looked down and said "Well I am naked".

Hart, of North Row, Lazenby, denied one charge of rape but was found guilty by a jury at the court in Middlesbrough.

During his closing speech, 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."

In his defence, Hart, who was 31 at the time of the offence, claimed he was asleep during the attack, TeessideLive reports.

Tom Mitchell, defending, told the court, during his closing speech, how "sexsomnia" was the explanation for his behaviour that night.

He told the jury that Hart had been examined by two doctors who said the condition is "real".

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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're asleep you're not responsible for your actions."

The jury heard from Mr Mitchell how Hart had allegedly sleep walked as a child.

The jury went out to consider their verdict in the case on Monday and took around five hours to find Hart guilty of rape.

On Friday morning, Hart was sentenced by Judge James Brown to nine years behind bars and ordered to sign the sex offenders register indefinitely.

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Sarah Nelson, the Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East, said: “Mark Hart has been sentenced for carrying out 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.

“For his victim’s part, it is simply not possible for a sleeping person to give informed consent to sexual activity, and these events have had a hugely significant impact on her life.

"We sincerely hope that this significant sentence passed on Mark Hart today provides some small measure of comfort to her.”

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