A man who deliberately infected at least five sexual partners with HIV has been convicted of causing grievous bodily harm.
Darryl Rowe, 27, was also convicted of five counts of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent following a trial at Lewes Crown Court.
The court heard how Rowe embarked on a campaign of unprotected sexual activity following his HIV diagnosis in Scotland in April 2015.
Later that year, Rowe moved to Brighton and, over a four-month period, had sexual relationships with eight men in the area, whom he met online.
Hairdresser Rowe was arrested in February last year after police were contacted by a health clinic in Brighton who noticed similarities in how two of their clients reported contracting HIV.
Police issued warnings to the public about an unnamed man who had been infecting people with HIV in Brighton.
Articles also appeared in the national press after Rowe was named on social media.
But right from his initial interview with police, Rowe denied having HIV and denied infecting others.
After his initial interview with the police, Rowe was bailed with a requirement to live outside Brighton and moved to live in a tent near Edingburgh and then Berwick-upon-Tweed, where he went on to have unprotected sex with another two men, using a pseudonym to ensure they did not find out his identity.
He feared they would look him up on Google if he gave them his real name.
However evidence also proved that he had been diagnosed with the disease in April 2015 in Edinburgh, where he was originally from. He had refused medication to treat the illness and to make him less contagious.
When police tracked him down in a house he was sharing with another man in the Wallsend area of Newcastle, he jumped out of a window and fled.
After failing to report back on police bail in November last year, Rowe was arrested a month later by police officers from Northumbria and Sussex, after several forces worked to try to locate him. He was then charged and remanded in custody on Christmas day.
The court heard that Rowe met his victims on the online dating site Grindr. He would persuade them to have unsafe sex telling them he was clean or negative for HIV or would deliberately sabotage condoms that he had used.
His victims asked whether he had HIV and, each time he was asked, he lied and told them he was HIV negative before insisting on unprotected sexual intercourse. On occasions where the men insisted that Rowe use a condom, he deliberately sabotaged them.
Afterwards he would send vindictive messages or texts to the men he had met goading them or even telling one victim after they had had sex, he was riddled with the virus.
Rowe told the jury that he researched alternative therapies online and believed that drinking his own urine daily, called urine therapy and taking herbs and oils would cure him.
Detective Inspector Andy Wolstenholme said: “This trial is the first time that a person has been charged and convicted of deliberately infecting others with HIV in the country.
“The verdict today is very welcome. It will bring some closure to the victims who have been very strong and supportive through the investigation.
“By bravely giving evidence in the trial, it sends a clear message that despite the complex and highly sensitive nature of such a case, the police and prosecutors will not shy away from investigating allegations of deliberate HIV transmission in order to keep people safe.
“Daryll Rowe was consistent in lying to his victims about having HIV, he was persistent and aggressive in wanting unprotected sex in order to infect people, and when he didn’t get what he wanted, he deliberately damaged condoms to achieve his aim.
“The victims have demonstrated real strength of character in speaking out about this, and because of this strength and the hard work of the detectives, staff and partners working on the case, a dangerous man, who betrayed the trust of many men, will now be imprisoned.”
Nigel Pilkington from the CPS said: “Rowe embarked on a deliberate campaign to infect other men with HIV after being told of his positive test. He had been advised to notify all sexual partners of his HIV positive status.
“He repeatedly lied to his victims, telling them he did not have the virus, and even stated in police interviews that he was HIV negative.
“Where his victims would not engage in unprotected sex, Rowe deliberately sabotaged the condoms he wore and afterwards sent the men abusive and mocking messages.
“The CPS presented a compelling case to the jury, demonstrating how Rowe knew exactly what he was doing and intended to do serious harm to his victims. They bravely came forward to report what had happened to them and, thanks to their support, we have been able to bring Rowe to justice.”
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