An HIV-positive man who went on a “deliberate campaign” to infect partners with the disease will spend the rest of his life in jail.
This is the first time in the United Kingdom that a person has been found guilty of purposely infecting others with HIV.
Hairdresser Daryll Rowe, 27, was found guilty of five grievous bodily harm with intent charges and another five charges of attempt to cause bodily harm. He will spend a minimum of 10 years and 253 days in jail before being eligible for parole.
After being diagnosed with HIV in April 2015, Rowe refused treatment. Then, he would meet victims on Grindr, the networking app for gay and bisexual men, and tell them that he was HIV-free. During intercourse, however, he would use condoms that had been tampered with in order to infect his partners.
After the encounters, he would then send the men horrific text messages.
Daryll Rowe - convicted of embarking on a “campaign” to infect men with HIV - is due to be sentenced in Brighton today.https://t.co/UodiR0rXiy— BBC South East (@bbcsoutheast) April 18, 2018
A personal statement read out on behalf of complainant 1 who was told by Daryll Rowe “I have HIV, LOL, oops” after intercourse, said he considers suicide everyday and doesn’t think he will every be able to have another relationship again.— BBC South East (@bbcsoutheast) April 18, 2018
He carried out these malicious acts between October 2015 and January 2016.
One of his victims was so depressed that he still thinks of committing suicide.
"I don't feel I can trust anyone. Daryll has destroyed my life. I would rather he had murdered me than left me to live my life like this," he said.
Another victim said that because his parents died of AIDS, he had tried to avoid suffering from the same fate his entire life.
“I tried to take my life with my HIV medication," he said.
Rowe, who said he was motivated by anger, had been arrested but then released on bail. During the time he was free, he reportedly targeted another two men after having had intercourse with at least eight men.
Out of the 10 victims, five now carry HIV.
"Every day I take medication and I know I have a virus inside me that could cause a horrible death. It can affect tremendously my psychological well-being. Even after two years it still feels like a horrible nightmare," one of his victims said.
In court, Rowe would lie, denying the claims and saying he was cured of the disease.
Caroline Carberry, prosecuting, said Daryll Rowe’s actions were premeditated. He “pressured men into the most high risk sex” and had a supply of sabotaged condoms for when they refused to engage in unprotected sex.— BBC South East (@bbcsoutheast) April 18, 2018
Felicity Gerry, defending Daryll Rowe, added: “HIV is not what it was in the 90s. The defendant himself was vulnerable and affected by his own infection.— BBC South East (@bbcsoutheast) April 18, 2018
“He needs therapy, not incarceration.”
During her ruling, Judge Christine Henson told the man that the jury could see “through your lies.”
"With the full knowledge of the risk you posed to others and the legal implications of engaging in risky sexual practices, you embarked on a deliberate campaign to infect other men with the HIV virus," the judge confirmed.
While many people worried that this sentence would mean more stigma to those living with HIV, National AIDS Trust Chief Executive Deborah Gold reminded the public that HIV-positive individuals should never be treated poorly because of this “deplorable” crime.
"People living with HIV should not be avoided, feared, or discriminated against, even when it comes to sex and dating," she said. "Well over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK, and the vast majority of them cannot pass on the virus to others due to effective medication — this is something most people don't [realize], unfortunately.”
Interesting to see Daryll Rowe, the man who intentionally spread HIV by having unprotected sex with men he met on Grindr, has been sent to prison for life. I'm worried the media coverage of this story could increase stigma for those living with HIV.— Jack (@minkpill) April 18, 2018
Daryll Rowe is to be sentenced today for the intentional transmission of HIV to five men and for attempting to infect a further five.— National AIDS Trust (@NAT_AIDS_Trust) April 18, 2018
NAT comment below. pic.twitter.com/mbkLbFhgTl
It’s terrifying to think that anyone would commit such a horrific act, essentially forcing individuals to contract a disease against their will — even if living with AIDS nowadays is not a death sentence thanks to advances in fighting the virus.
Regardless of this man’s mental health state when he was taking these actions, at least he’s now in jail and won’t be able to pose the same risk to others.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Flickr user Derek Key