Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sleep Crime Rules

Sad that this needs addressing, but it evidently does. If you commit a serious, violent crime but are found innocent because you "did it in your sleep" you are a risk to the public. Until you can demonstrate that medical science can cure you of your sleep criminality you need to remain under medical or police or prison care at all times, especially if you appear to be nodding off.

For some reason it is always men who commit these dream-attacks against women isn't it? The most recent is the murder of Christine Thomas. But we have had similar issues before with sleep-rape (of course check with Whoopi Goldberg, this is different from rape-rape...). James Bilton was cleared of three counts of sleep-rape while his reassuring medical team opined that only 1-2.5% of the population suffered from this condition. So we can all sleep easily knowing that only 1 in 40 guys are liable to rape you in the night and get off scott free. Shame he never bothered to sleep-check-for-consent first.

Well just so you know, I'm developing a dreadful condition where I sleep-take-revenge-for-crimes-committed-by-the-criminally-asleep. If you find me stood over you with a hand gun, I am probably having one of those buying-a-gun-on-the-street-and-shooting-you-in-the-head-dreams. Gosh will I be embarrassed when I wake up...


Jim Jepps said...

I don't know if this is a predominantly male thing but when I was young I used to suffer from night-terrors. Just to be clear that this isn't nightmares or just horrible dreams but all consuming horror in the nighttime.

I used to scream, roar, growl and say all sorts while in my sleep, as well as sleep walk, do things, etc.

Thankfully it slowed down and stopped by the time I was about 14, and I never did anything 'criminal' in that time, but it was a massive worry for my family, understandably.

There's absolutely no way I was responsible for what I was doing, and it bore no relation to my daytime behaviour, so I just don't think in genuine cases of this sort of thing it would be right to criminalise the person.

However, where I do agree with you is that if someone is a danger at night then you can't just ignore that. It may well may that once they are identified as a danger you need a medically identified plan (which might include sleeping in a separate room, not drinking, locking the door from the inside, etc) I'm not an expert but basically a set of precautions.

If someone commits a crime while asleep and they haven't followed that plan then it might be seen as reckless endangerment or something...

Anyway, the key point is that if there is an identified danger people need to be protected from that even if the person who is a danger should not be criminalised where it is not their fault.

Cruella said...

Yes my husband certainly throws a few elbows in his sleep but if I poke him in the ribs and tell him to stop it he wakes up and apologises. A sleep condition where you are being violent and can't be stopped or woken is something else. And James Bilton committed three rapes while "asleep", he really needed to start using the door lock system sooner.


The justifications for men to continue to have unlimited sexual access to women and girls is limitless. Men must never be held accountable for their crimes against women and girls.

Sleep rape is just one such sleight of hand because now men who claim they weren't responsible for raping a woman because said male rapist was 'asleep at the time' is seen as credible.

Odd is it not that women do not routinely engage in committing sleep murder. Perhaps it is because women know that claiming such an excuse would be dismissed as inplausible but sleep rape for men is apparently a medical condition!

Answer to this male specific condition is for the male to be swiftly placed in a secure unit in order to protect women and girls from his 'sleep rape disorder.' But then that would be an infringement of his male rights would it not? So much easier to continue to believe 'sleep rape' is a specific male medical condition and hence these male rapists must never be held accountable for their crimes against women and girls.

Jim Jepps said...

"Odd is it not that women do not routinely engage in committing sleep murder."

No one regularly engages in sleep murder.

Unknown said...

It looks like the defendant raised the defence of automatism i.e. he said that he wasn't in control of his body at the time.

This is a really problematic defence because it basically states there was no actus reus, or guilty act. It means that the defendant can be found innocent even if the crime in question doesn't require intent (e.g. most driving cases).

However, it has generally been held that if the defendant knowingly contributed to the risk of the crime happening he can't raise this defence. This is why drunks can't say that the alcohol made them out-of-control so it wasn't their fault they hit their old granny with a beer bottle etc.

If the case goes to appeal it'll probably be argued that as a known sleep-walker he should have taken precautions and as such his actions weren't outside the scope of his control even if he wasn't in control at the time of the attcks.

The problem with automatism is that it isn't a special defence like insanity where even if you're found innocent you have to face a Mental Health Review Board. If you're found innocent by reason of automatism you're basically free to go; this is obviously not a good place for the law to be.

Anonymous said...

I have to say as daft as it sounds my husband regularly suffers from Night Terrors.

Sometimes they are funny: the time he jumped up and went to attack the tiger at the end of the bed,

often they scare the bejesus out me; jumping up on his feet - pointing at the window and screaming what's that, or when he believed there were spiders crawling all over me and was desperately trying to get me out of bed to escape them.

and they can be sad; curling up in a ball to protect himself and crying in pain as he believed someone was poking him in the eye...

He has absolutely no idea what he's doing and doesn't remember anything in the morning, but he knows he's been out of bed, as he's exhausted.

That said (and I don't want to jinx it) he's never been violent towards me in anyway - but if he did... he'd probably find himself sleeping in a cage of some kind.

If these crimes are committed and the attackers genuinely have no idea what they are doing then I think it's tragic.

But if they are just viscous gits taking advantage of a difficult condition - well they should be in prison.