A British man has been found guilty of setting out to deliberately infect 10 men he met on the gay dating app Grindr with HIV.
On Wednesday, Daryll Rowe, 27, (pictured) was convicted of five counts of grievous bodily harm with intent, and five counts of attempted grievous bodily harm, in the Lewes crown court.
Starting in October 2015, Rowe tried to infect as many men as possible in the Brighton area by using sabotaged condoms when having sex with his victims.
He then taunted, mocked and verbally abused his sexual partners, telling them that they were “riddled” with the virus. He succeeded in infecting five of the men he had sex with.
One victim received a message that read: “Maybe you have the fever. I came inside you and I have HIV LOL. Oops!”
When first arrested, Rowe told the police that he did not have HIV, before going on the run. He also refused treatment for HIV, thereby making himself infectious.
Using a fake name, he continued to target men and when re-rearrested was found in possession of a large number of sabotaged condoms.
While Rowe denied seeking to infect the men, police had a plethora of evidence, such as text messages, which confirmed both that he knew that he was HIV positive and that he intended to spread the virus.
“This is a man who, after the event, having known what was he was doing, sent mocking and abusive texts to some of his victims. It must have been traumatic,” said Nigel Pilkington, deputy chief crown prosecutor.
Pilkington commented that there could well be more men who have not come forward who may have been affected by Rowe’s actions.
Rowe, who was described both as charming and “cruel and callous,” was found guilty by a jury of seven women and five men after 18 hours of deliberation. He is set to be sentenced in January and could face life in prison.
What stood out in the case was his deliberate and malicious actions and apparent glee in taunting his sexual partners.
According to the National AIDS Trust (NAT), this is the first time someone has been convicted of intentional HIV transmission in England, and the first time such a charge has ever gone to full trial.
“It is not surprising that such a case is unprecedented,” said Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT. “To be guilty of intentional HIV transmission you have to both want to harm a sexual partner by passing on HIV to them and then succeed in doing so. Such behaviour is utterly exceptional and vanishingly rare.”
She noted that, “an overwhelming majority of HIV transmissions are from people who are unaware that they are HIV positive and, therefore, unaware that there is a risk they could pass the virus on. Indeed, people who are on effective HIV treatment cannot pass the virus on.”
“We are all responsible to practice safer sex with new and casual partners, and as and when appropriate discuss honestly with them how to remain as healthy as possible in our sex lives,” Gold added.