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England’s First Rejection of the Defense of Crime during “Sleepwalking”
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Zack Thompson, accused with raping a 17-year old teenager in a Portuguese holiday resort, stood out by being the first defendant whose defense of ‘sleepwalking’ has been successfully rejected in England. It was not him, but something else that caused the alleged crime. Something the courts in England failed to grasp and the U.K. police played spoilsport by calling in U.S. sleep disorder psychologists.

Being thoroughly flummoxed by Thompson’s claim, the Nottinghamshire Police called American psychologist Mark Pressman to assess the accused. Pressman has more than 30 years experience in sleep-related disorders, and he found Thompson’s behavior was inconsistent with that normally exhibited by sleepwalkers. However, Pressman could not refuse the premise that the alleged “memory loss” could have been the result of consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.

After hearing the opinion of Mark Pressman, the accused changed his claim from “sleepwalking” to “insanity.”


The Nottinghamshire police again played spoilsport by calling in top experts and psychiatrists on insanity. The claims of Thompson were rejected by the psychiatrists.

However, Judge John Milmo QC told the court that the possibility that Thompson’s amnesia was genuine cannot be ruled out, but he said the crime has had a debilitating effect on the victim.

Graham Buchanan of the Crown Prosecution Service told the media that “Zack Thompson’s defense of sleepwalking to an allegation of rape has been successfully challenged through legal argument before a judge at the Crown Court … The prosecution team demonstrated to the court that neither non-insane automatism, by way of sleepwalking, nor temporary insanity could in this case form a defense.”

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The Crown Prosecutor added further “As a result of the judge ruling in accordance with the prosecution’s arguments, the defendant pleaded guilty without taking the case to trial.”

The Nottingham Crown Court has sentenced him to six years in prison.

This is the second time in Britain, and first time in England that the defense of “sleepwalking” has been successfully challenged and fraudulent defense plea exposed.

Paula Winfield, the detective constable leading the investigation, told the media that “Sleepwalking as a criminal defense had never been successfully challenged in a sexual offence case before. … Today has been a triumph for the British legal system.”

The criminal defense of “sleepwalking” had been successfully challenged in only one previous occasion in Britain, when in 2011, John Docherty from Glasgow was found guilty of attempted murder despite his claim that he was sleepwalking at the time.



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