Fury as soldier who dodged rape prosecution in Scotland after claiming he was sleepwalking goes on to attack two women in England
29 May 2016 Marcello Mega
RAPIST Army sergeant Joseph Short was jailed for 11 years for two attacks down south but the Crown Office dropped a prosecution in Scotland after he claimed he had been sleepwalking.
A SOLDIER who dodged a rape prosecution in Scotland after claiming he was sleepwalking went on to attack two women in England, we can reveal.
Joseph Short’s victims yesterday demanded to know why the Crown Office dropped the prosecution in Scotland after he was jailed for 11 years for the attacks down south.
The Army sergeant, who had been posted to Edinburgh, had been investigated by police over an alleged rape in Midlothian in 2011, when a woman suffered serious injuries.
The Crown decided not to take the case to court after the 30-year-old argued he suffers from a contested medical condition – labelled “sexsomnia” – and had been asleep throughout the attack.
At the time, he was awaiting trial for another attack in Hull and was also cleared of that.
But we can reveal a jury in England has rejected his medical claims after he used the story to try to escape justice after raping one woman and sexually attacking another.
The same medical expert who backed Short’s claim in Scotland told the English trial that he had ignored his advice subsequently.
His first victim, who cannot be named, called for an investigation.
She said: “I feel we need a debate about this so-called condition. Nobody even tried to explain it to me.
“How do we know it really exists? What are the tests that are carried out? How do the experts know, even if they can prove he has the condition, that he isn’t just doing what he wants and using it as an excuse?
“Does having sexsomnia give you licence to rape women?
“Should you not warn a new partner you have the condition?
“I’m glad he’s in jail, but sorry it took another two victims to suffer.
“I know what he did to me, and I know he was wide awake. But I’ve moved on. He’s in the past.”
She added: “‘I was glad I’d reported him when I heard he’d been accused of a rape in Hull. I knew then it wasn’t a one-off and he was dangerous. I waited and waited, wondering what was happening.
“The Crown Office didn’t keep me informed and I often wondered what was going on.
“The Crown Office told me more than two years later they weren’t proceeding due to lack of evidence.
“It was devastating. It had hung over me for so long for nothing.
“Obviously, when that happens, you wonder why you bothered, why you put your life on hold.”
Critics have pointed out several rape accused have used the sexsomnia defence before admitting they were lying. In 2011, a paedophile who abused two girls over a 26-year spell tried to claim he suffered from the disorder.
But the Crown took financial adviser John Goldie to court and he was convicted after admitting his claim was untrue.
The Scottish woman who accused Short had been in a casual relationship with him and they had already had sex on the night he raped her.
She woke up to find him having sex with her again and asked him to put on a condom.
When he ignored her, she started to struggle. They fell off the bed in the struggle, bringing a bedside table crashing down, but he picked her up, threw her on the bed and resumed his assault.
She tried to fight him off by hitting him on the head with a lamp.
The Crown accepted an opinion from the UK’s leading expert on sleep disorders Professor Colin Espie that Short suffered from sexsomnia.
The Crown took advice from three other sleep-disorder experts and each confirmed the diagnosis.
The mum from Midlothian added: “I was only formally told in December 2013 that it had been dropped.
“They said it was because of a lack of evidence – but I had been photographed covered in bruises.
“They were everywhere – on my hands, wrists, arms, shoulder, neck and back.
“Both knees were skinned and he bit me hard on the breast.
“I felt they gave in too easily to an expert opinion about something even I know could be ridiculed in court.
“If they’d put my case to a jury, I think he’d have been found guilty and he wouldn’t have been free to attack the two women down south.
“The Crown Office failed me, but I’d already been raped. The other two women should never have been his victims as well.”
Contacted at that time and asked for an explanation about how experts diagnose sexsomnia Espie, who was based in Glasgow but is now in Oxford, refused to offer any guidance.
One of the other experts who advised the Crown said diagnosis relied heavily on the word of people such as partners and ex-partners, who could confirm past incidents of attempting sex while asleep.
Short’s Scottish defence team was told he would not be prosecuted if he attended a series of counselling sessions with Espie to understand and manage his
Short had returned to England and was living in Aldershot before the more recent attacks.
A jury at Birmingham Crown Court earlier this month found him guilty of two counts of rape against a woman in Waltham Abbey, Essex, in the summer of 2014.
He was also found guilty of sexually assaulting another woman in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, in June last year.
He knew both victims and cycled after the second woman when she managed to escape his home, yet he claimed he had been asleep while he pursued her.
He was jailed for 11 years, with his licence period on release extended by a further four years.
The court heard from a report prepared by Espie.
He stood by the sexsomnia diagnosis but now considered Short dangerous as he had ignored all his advice on how to avoid harming women.
When it became clear to Short that sexsomnia was not going to help him this time, he tried to plead insanity but the Crown called experts to refute it.
The woman who Short was convicted of raping twice sent a message of support to Short’s
She told the Sunday Mail: “My heart goes out to her that she did not get justice in her own name but, like the rest of us, she did her bit by reporting him and by going through the trauma of the legal system.
“She couldn’t have done any more and I’d like her to be able to feel that he has 15 years, although some of it is on licence, to think about what he’s done and that some of that time is for what he did to her.”
The Crown Office said: “The Crown reserves the right to re-raise proceedings should further evidence come to light.”
The Army said: “We can confirm Joseph Short is a former member of the Army, however we do not comment on individual cases and are not prepared to release any personal information.”
Professor: Sexsomnia is not in any textbook
The case against Short was dropped despite the high-profile conviction of an abuser who blamed sexsomnia.
A jury at Cupar Sheriff Court heard how John Goldie claimed he had the disorder and had told one of two victims he was a sufferer.
Financial adviser Goldie, of Crossford, near Dunfermline, abused the girls over a 26-year period at his home, in his car and in a hotel.
He was jailed in April 2011, but died in August while on bail to appeal his three-year jail sentence.
Expert Stephen Lawrie, Professor of Psychiatry at Edinburgh University, said: “I think sexsomnia is a condition that is recently described, not widely known about and possibly not widely accepted.
“Typically sleep disorders are associated with clumsy behaviour rather than lengthy episodes of very physical and organised behaviour.
“The sufferers are not normally resistant to the things that would wake most people from even the deepest sleep such as loud noises, falling or even being struck.
He added that psychiatry had two diagnostic “bibles” – DSM-5, which is dominant in America, and the International Classification of Diseases, which is more common in the rest of the world.
He said that sexsomnia did not feature in either.
Other notable cases which haver featured sexsomnia as a defence include that of former Hollyoaks actor Simon Morris.
The 45-year-old, of London, pretended he was sleepwalking when he raped a 15-year-old girl.
He was jailed for 15 years in 2013.
In 2012, Zack Thompson of Newark, Nottinghamshire, was jailed after admitting the sexsomnia defence he had maintained for two and a half years was not true.
He was jailed for six years for his attack on a girl in the Portuguese holiday resort of Albufeira in 2009.
But Oxford student Maximillian Hessel was cleared after using the controversial defence.