Man claimed to have 'sexsomnia' when he raped woman

Luke Fox, 24, of Hesketh Road, Southport
Luke Fox, 24, of Hesketh Road, Southport -Credit:Reach Plc

A man who raped a fellow student and carried out a sex attack on another claimed he suffered from "sexsomnia."

Luke Fox, was a student at Nottingham Trent University when the attacks took place. Fox, 24, was found guilty of rape and assault by penetration against two victims following a near two-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court earlier this year.

A jury heard Fox's first victim was raped after a party. Prosecutor Andrew Fitch-Holland said: "After it wound down she and the defendant ended up in a bedroom.

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"She fell asleep and recalled being awoken by the sensation of someone touching her leg and lower back. Pretending to yawn, (she) sat up and deduced that it was Luke Fox, still sitting on the floor, who had been stroking her.

"(She) decided that it was best not to create a scene, in the hope that would be an end to this unwanted contact, and she fell back asleep. But that was not the end of the matter, as (she) describes being woken having been penetrated and in her words 'waking up to him raping me'."

The victim said she "froze through fear" and waited until Fox, of Hesketh Road, Southport, fell asleep before making her escape.

The second incident took place less than a year later, reports the Nottingham Post. The victim told police that after an evening drinking she woke up to find Fox with his hands inside her underwear.

Mr Fitch-Holland said the victim described him as appearing as if he "was in a trance" with his eyes open. However, when she asked what he was doing, he removed his hands from her underwear, apologised, and left the room, leaving his victim in tears.

He continued: "(She) said that in the early afternoon, Fox asked to speak with her. He was very upset, and highly apologetic about his previous behaviour. The defendant then went on to tell (her) that he believed that he suffered from 'sexsomnia' and offered some explanation as to what he said such a condition entailed in effect that whilst in a state of sleep he could engage in sexual activity of which he had no knowledge or indeed control."

Mr Fitch-Holland said both victims were initially prepared to accept Fox's explanation of the condition he claimed to suffer from. But some time later another female student claimed the defendant was coercing her with intimate photographs taken without her consent.

He continued: "It was this that ultimately led to the complainants contacting the police and the defendant's subsequent arrest."

The prosecutor said: "In his police interview, the defendant stated that he believes that he suffers from sexsomnia. He told the police that this was effectively a self-diagnosis and that although he said he had carried out extensive online research into the condition, he had not seen any expert medical or other practitioner.

"He told the police that from his research he believed that alcohol and some recreational drugs could trigger the condition. If the alleged sexual activity did, contrary to his belief, occur, then it must have been in consequence of sexsomnia."

In an impact statement, the rape victim told how she now suffers "trust issues" as a result of what happened to her. She said: "I panic when people get too close to me when I go out."

And in her statement, the sexual assault victim said: "What you did to me is unforgivable. I never thought I would have to take a break from university, I thought I was stronger than that, but this has taken it out of me."

Luke Fox arriving at court
Luke Fox arriving at court -Credit:Reach Plc

Defending, Fiona McNeill highlighted that her client, with no prior convictions, had garnered a number of "extremely powerful" character references. She remarked: "There is a measure of insight demonstrated by him and he is acutely aware of the ripple effects and fully accepts the inevitable sentence.

"He is properly someone that can be assessed as a positive good character. He is clearly a well-loved and respected member of his family."

Judge Michael Auty KC told Fox his first victim was "highly vulnerable" due to her level of intoxication. The judge also recalled how Fox's second victim "wept in the witness box" reliving the horrifying experience while giving evidence in court.

Jailing Fox for 10 years, Judge Auty said: "What you did to those two was utterly traumatic and whatever the consequences are for you today they will be much harder on (the first victim). She will find it extremely hard to put this behind her and instead learn to live with it rather than forget it.

"Everyone recognises that the sentences in this case need to be consecutive but you have shown dignity in your pre-sentence report by recognising the dreadful affect your behaviour is likely to have caused these two."

Fox was also placed on the sex offenders register for life.

A spokesperson from Nottingham Trent University stated: "We stand against all forms of sexual violence and harassment and want everyone in the NTU community to always feel safe and secure here. Where any incidents are reported to us we investigate promptly, support those involved and take decisive action.

"We have a programme of year-round initiatives, including our Respect and Consent campaign run in partnership with the students' union where we provide a range of guidance and advice and set out the expectations of behaviour for our community. We have a consent training programme for all first-year students, essential staff training for when a student discloses an incident of sexual violence and sexual violence liaison officers who are trained to provide students with specialist support.

"We will continue to work with our students' union and student and colleague networks on additional measures to ensure our university is a safe place to study and work."

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