Step-dad convicted of sexual activity with a child

PUBLISHED: 16:21 25 January 2008 | UPDATED: 22:01 26 October 2009

A STEP-DAD who claimed he was sleepwalking when he groped his partner s teenage daughter has today been convicted by a jury. The 49-year-old Hatfield man went into the girl s bedroom late at night and rubbed her breasts as she lay dozing in her bed, St Al

A STEP-DAD who claimed he was sleepwalking when he groped his partner's teenage daughter has today been convicted by a jury.

The 49-year-old Hatfield man went into the girl's bedroom late at night and rubbed her breasts as she lay dozing in her bed, St Albans Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Richard Jones told the jury: "The issue is this: He will maintain that he has a history of sleepwalking and has on occasions been observed waking up in a shoe cupboard having left his own bed."

The step-father pleaded not guilty to one offence of sexual activity with a child in the early hours of April 28, 2006, but was convicted by the jury.

The court heard how he lived with the girl and her mother at their home in Hatfield.

The teenager had spent the evening before in her bedroom watching TV. Around 11pm that night she went to bed and put on a video to help her sleep.

At around 1.10am she was aware of the defendant visiting the bathroom and knew it was him by his cough.

Moments later, the court heard she was aware of someone putting an arm over her side, before rubbing her breasts.

Mr Jones said the defendant moved his hand down her body at which point the girl grabbed his wrists to get it away.

She got out of her bed and heard him say "Where are you going?"

The girl went to another bedroom.

The prosecutor said the defendant had parental responsibility for the girl but had crept in her room that night and "groped and fondled her" until she had stopped him.

He said the expert on sleepwalking's view was that in first going to the toilet and then asking the girl where she was going was not consistent with sleepwalking.

In a videoed interview the teenager gave to the police she told officers she had been lying on her side in bed when she felt an arm on her side.

"Then he touched my breasts, I wasn't wearing a bra. Then he went down and he was rubbing my leg," she said

She said she felt her nightie being pulled up and then the defendant put his hand down her pyjama bottoms.

The girl said she got out of bed and was "shocked".

She told officers she was aware the defendant had sleep problems and talked in his sleep on occasions.

"But I have never heard about him sleepwalking before. I thought he was quite aware of what he was doing," she said.

Judge Michael Baker QC adjourned sentence for reports. The case will not be back in court before February 18. The man was granted bail.

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