A MAN who was sentenced to five years in prison for raping a woman claimed a rare sleep disorder was to blame.

Anthony Robbie Burridge said he was suffering from sexsomnia – a condition that causes people to commit sex acts in their sleep, when he assaulted the 19-year-old at his Wroughton home.

Burridge, 22, from the Perrys Lane area, who pleaded not guilty, was sentenced by Judge Douglas Field at Swindon Crown Court.

He will also be placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

A Wiltshire Police spokeswoman said she hoped the verdict “sends a clear message that there are no excuses for rape”.

She said that on May 4, 2008, Burridge met his victim for a drink in Swindon town centre before they both went back to his house where she stayed the night.

“In the early hours of the morning she was sexually assaulted by Burridge and reported it to the police,” the spokeswoman said.

According to Chris Oswald of Ross Solicitors, who defended Burridge, the pair had spent the night in the same room.

“What he said was that he got home to find the spare room was not usable because there were papers and his mother’s property all over the room,” Mr Oswald said.

“His mother’s rule was that strangers were not supposed to sleep on the sofa.

“She ended up sleeping on the outside of the quilt. He slept underneath.”

Mr Oswald said his client had no memory of what had happened.

“He was horrified when he found out,” he said.

“He had suffered from sleepwalking since he was a child. The sleepwalking had reduced for a while then began to manifest itself again as he got older.”

An expert from the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, Dr Chris Idzikowski, gave evidence during the four-day trial in which he said it was possible that Burridge suffered from sexsomnia.

A spokesman from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “We are pleased at the outcome, especially as it secures a sense of justice for the victim, and we would like to recognise her great courage in reporting the incident and supporting the prosecution process.”