Sleepwalking dad 'unaware' he molested step-daughter

A MORBIDLY obese dad with a sleep disorder that can cause death has been found not guilty of indecently touching his teenage step-daughter.

The Ipswich man suffers diagnosed sleep apnoea and maintained at his trial that he'd been sleep walking and totally unaware of what he was doing when he went into the bedroom of the sleeping girl.

Defended by barrister John Jacob, the man successfully maintained his innocence before a jury in Ipswich District Court on two Crown charges alleging he indecently dealt with a child under 16 on one night in December 2014.

Crown prosecutor Noel Needham argued the man knew "exactly what he was doing" even saying sorry, and leaving the bedroom when the child pulled away and spoke to him.

Mr Noel Needham said the step-father had crossed the line when he allegedly lay down beside the girl.

The man maintained it was fanciful.

The girl, then aged 15, said her step-father briefly snored but was awake when he leaned in to kiss her while massaging and touching her.

"No I think he was awake," was part of her evidence.

The man was described as being "morbidly obese" and weighing about 170kg at the time of the allegations.

The trial heard evidence from the man's wife - also the girl's mother - about his sleeping habits when using a special apnoea breathing device.

Documentation of his sleeping patterns and dream state, taken from the results of a medical sleep study he took part in, was also used.

Clinical conditions from parasomnias that may cause confusional (sexual) arousals and sleepwalking were also mentioned in the evidence.

Observations of a medical condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea were made and whether it had any association with parasomnias and could cause abnormal sexual sleep behaviours formed part of the case. This was mixed with evidence given by one medical professional.

However, any link was said to be very low as the man was already being treated for sleep apnoea.

The man's wife, in evidence, when queried about his sleeping behaviours recalled that his arm would sometimes come over her body as "dead weight" when asleep.

After going through the evidence, the jury of eight men and four women returned the unanimous verdict of not guilty to both charges.

The man was solemn faced, showing no emotion as the verdict was read.

He was formally discharged by Judge Dennis Lynch QC.