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‘Dream killer’ cleared of murder

A husband who killed his wife while he said he had a dream about an intruder has been cleared of her murder. Brian Thomas, 59, admitted killing Christine, 57, in their camper van, but blamed his rare sleep disorder.

He was discharged after the judge told the jury to return a not guilty verdict at Swansea Crown Court after the death at Aberporth, Ceredigion. He told Mr Thomas, of Neath, that “in the eyes of the law you bear no responsibility for the events”.

Mr Thomas’s brother Raymond, speaking on the court steps, said: “This is absolutely wonderful. “This is the right decision. Justice has prevailed.” The case was described as “highly unusual” by prosecuting barrister Paul Thomas.

Jurors were told at the start of the trial that they could reach only two verdicts for the murder charge – not guilty, or not guilty by reason of insanity. The court heard that tests commissioned by both the prosecution and the defence were carried out on Mr Thomas as he slept following his claims of a sleep disorder.

Both sleep experts agreed his behaviour was consistent with automatism, which meant at the time he killed his wife, his mind had no control over what his body was doing. But the jury has been told there are two types of automatism: insane automatism and non-insane automatism, which they will have to decide between for their verdict.

In court on Friday morning, however, the prosecution told the jury that it was no longer seeking a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity and that there would be no purpose in sending Mr Thomas to a psychiatric hospital.

‘Not a risk’

Mr Thomas described how Mr Thomas killed his wife, his childhood sweetheart to whom who he was married to for 40 years, because he had dreamt she was a man who had broken into their motor home.

The court heard how Mr and Mrs Thomas, who had two daughters, had gone on holiday in their camper van in July 2008 and stayed the night at a vehicle park in Aberporth. A group of younger people turned up at the car park after they had gone to bed, and the screeching of brakes and tyres – described in court as “boy racer activity” – disturbed the couple, who moved from the site’s lower to its higher car park.

The prosecution said that at 0349 the next morning, Mr Thomas made a 999 call, which was later played to the court, in which he said he had killed his wife because he had mistaken her for an intruder in a dream.

He said he had dreamt he was fighting one of the boy racers. The court heard that the daughters said their father had been prone to episodes of sleepwalking, during which he had been known sometimes to act strangely. During the trial a psychiatrist for the prosecution, Dr Caroline Jacob, said she did not think he posed a risk and should walk free.

Source: BBC

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