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Man cleared of sleepwalk murder

Great Britain
Crime, Law and Justice

LONDON, England -- A British man has been cleared of murdering his father after claiming the fatal attack took place while he was sleepwalking.

Jules Lowe was facing a life sentence for murder but was instead detained under a hospital order after a jury found him not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

Lowe, 32, did not deny the assault on his 83-year-old father Edward but claimed to have no memory of the attack, according to the Press Association.

Edward Lowe was "savagely beaten" in a prolonged attack and had 90 separate injuries to his body.

Prosecutor Richard Marks QC said Lowe's defense of sleepwalking was "far fetched in the extreme."

But after hearing expert evidence the jury at Manchester Crown Court, in northern England, decided the attack took place while Lowe was sleepwalking in an "automaton" state -- completely unaware of his own actions.

Described in court as a "quagmire of law" the defense of sleepwalking, or automatism, has only been used in a handful of cases in British legal history.

Trial judge Richard Henriques made an order under the Criminal Procedures Act to remand Lowe in custody until an appropriate hospital place can be found.

Lowe attacked his father at the family home near Manchester after a heavy drinking session in October 2003.

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