South East Wales

Former soldier Peter Atilla not guilty of rape

Peter Atilla Image copyright Wales News Service

A former soldier who was accused of raping a woman while he was asleep has been cleared by a jury.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard how the woman who had gone to bed with Peter Atilla, 46, after inviting him to "cuddle" said she woke up and discovered him having sex with her.

The court heard when she confronted him the following day he was shocked by her claims and said he had no memory of it.

The jury found Mr Atilla from Northampton not guilty of rape.

The court was told how Mr Atilla had returned from a six-month tour of duty to Afghanistan the day before the alleged rape in 2013 and had gone to bed with the woman.

But she said she later awoke to find Mr Atilla having sex with her.

The following day the woman confronted Mr Atilla.

"I woke in the morning and went downstairs," he told the jury.

"She came towards me and came out with allegations that I raped her.

"I said to her 'no I did not'.

"After she spoke I was in terrible shock.

"I said to her I had no memory whatsoever."

Prosecutor Dyfed Thomas asked if he denied having sex with the woman. Mr Atilla replied: "Unless I've got a body double I must have been asleep."

During the trial, the jury heard Mr Atilla may have been in "action mode" when he went to sleep because his tour of duty had only just ended.

Two psychiatrists told the court it was "possible" the defendant suffered from parasomnia - defined as unwanted behaviour during sleep.

Dr Chris Idzikowski said a subset of parasomnia was sexsomnia - a type of "confusional arousal" - which can lead to sexual behaviour from a person in deep sleep.

Dr Idzikowski said: "If he arrived back in action mode it's potentially something that would come through in his sleep.

He said Mr Atilla, a former Royal Logistics Corps officer who served "with distinction" in the first Gulf War, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, may have been triggered by something as simple as a sound.

He admitted the evidence the disorder led to Mr Atilla having sex with the woman while asleep was "weak" but said he could not exclude it from being possible.

Another psychiatrist, Dr Chandan Seghal, said he too "could not exclude" the attack relating to a sleep disorder, but agreed the evidence was "weak."

During the case, Mr Atilla denied he had confessed to police he had raped the woman saying: "It had been rammed into me for three years that I had raped her. I just said it.

"I was tired of being emotionally blackmailed over the allegation. I just wanted it done with. I did not rape her," he told the jury.

He was cleared by a jury on 10 February of one charge of rape.

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