A MAN accused of groping a woman has been cleared after he was found to have been suffering from a sleep disorder at the time.

Gerard Bryceland, 53, touched the 20-year-old inappropriately at his flat in Glasgow’s Hyndland last August.

The woman “froze” as she and her partner woke up to find Bryceland in bed beside them with his hand over her body.

Bryceland claimed he was sleepwalking at the time.

He was acquitted of the sex assault charge after a sheriff accepted a psychiatrist’s view that his sleepwalking was a “mental disorder.”

The terms of his special defence of having a mental disorder resulted in him being placed on the sex offenders register for five years despite the acquittal.

The special defence states: “A person is not criminally responsible for conduct constituting an offence, and is to be acquitted of the offence, if the person was at the time of the conduct unable by reason of mental disorder to appreciate the nature or wrongfulness of the conduct.”

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard Bryceland, his wife and the young couple had gone out together that day before going back to the flat.

Prosecutor Chris Farrell told the court the pair went to sleep in Bryceland’s spare bedroom.

He said: “The woman said she was frozen and woke up to find a hand on her breast.

“Buttons on her pyjamas were undone and his hand moved down to her thigh area.”

Mr Farrell went on to describe that the woman was then touched inappropriately by Bryceland.

Her partner woke up and was able to shake off Bryceland who “rose quickly, almost immediately and sprung up out of bed.”

Mr Farrell added: “He walked out to the hallway laughing.”

The couple didn’t report the incident to the police until 10 days later.

Bryceland and his wife meantime met psychiatrist Saduf Riaz who diagnosed his sleepwalking condition.

The court heard Bryceland had been sleepwalking since he was a boy and it can be triggered by alcohol use and anxiety.

Lawyer Ann Ritchie, defending, said: “He was horrified and shocked about what happened in the room and wanted to apologise to both of them.

“The psychiatrist said he was worried about it and he was depressed.”

Sheriff Charles Lugton said: “I find that the special defence has been established.

“This was a serious incident as a result of your sleepwalking which is a condition.

“It is appropriate to consider the need to protect the public following on from your acquittal.”