Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Murder? Not!

Brian Thomas, a British man who claims to have strangled his wife during a nightmare about fighting off an intruder has been found innocent in her death. Prosecutors seem to have accepted Thomas’ claim that he had a sleep disorder and had no control over his body when he attacked his wife of 40 years while they were both asleep.

Mr. Thomas admitted being responsible but instead of charging him with murder or manslaughter, prosecutors had sought a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, the Press Association reported.

“The consequences of such a finding would have meant Mr. Thomas’s detention in a psychiatric hospital, but it is now clear that the psychiatrists feel that that would serve no useful purpose,” Mr. Jenkins said.

Swansea Crown Court heard Mr. Thomas regularly took anti-depressant drugs which made him impotent, and he had stopped doing so before the holiday as the couple, who slept in separate bedrooms at home, wanted to be “intimate”.

Medical experts said the sudden withdrawal of the drugs could have led to him having very vivid dreams.

Wonder how long before we see this story on Law & Order?


  1. …is that he’s not been hospitalised. There’s also the imbalance of power. Unless she’s armed with a weapon (which would imply malice aforethought) few women are going to have the strength to overpower a male partner in their sleep.

    That said, however, this goes back to the old debates about criminal responsibility developed in the 19th century. Psychotics or somnabulists were deemed, through the principle of ‘automatism’ not be responsible for their actions. This definition was refined however, to take account for those who – through drug use or drunkeness – deliberately put themselves in the position of being out of their minds. This was called ‘sane automatism’ and would bring a charge of manslaughter at minimum.

    Strangling someone in your sleep seems to be on the cusp of sane/insane automatism, and I’m disturbed that a manslaughter charge wasn’t invoked, and some kind of psychiatric care as a minimum.  

  2. It’s a perfect excuse for a crime, but there is no way to prove it isn’t true and that the husband isn’t incredibly traumatized (it’s a nightmare scenario to imagine).

    It’s easy to see an innocent man go to jail or a guilty man walk free in a case like this.

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