A hairdresser has been sentenced to life in prison for deliberately infecting men with HIV after meeting them on Grindr.
Daryll Rowe had asked for a more lenient punishment, insisting the disease was no longer terminal and that those diagnosed had “good and high life expectancy”.
His lawyers asked the judge to pass a sentence that would not add to the “social stigma” of HIV, but inform the public the virus is not what it was in the 1990s.
On Wednesday afternoon at Brighton Crown Court, Judge Christine Henson QC disagreed, and made history by sentencing Rowe to life with a minimum term of 12 years.
He is the first person in England to be convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to HIV.
Rowe’s six-week trial heard he embarked on a cynical and deliberate campaign to infect men with the disease, refusing treatment and ignoring advice from doctors.
He insisted on having unprotected sex with men, claiming he was “clean”. When they refused, he tampered with condoms, tricking them into thinking he was practising safe sex.
Rowe showed no emotion as prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC read out statements from nine of his 10 victims, which she said showed the “devastating consequences” of his actions.
Many told how they had considered suicide having suffered physical and psychological damage, needing to take daily medication.
One said: “Daryll has destroyed my life. I would rather he had murdered me than left me to live my life like this.”
The court heard it is the first case in which someone will be sentenced for GBH after intentionally infecting others with the HIV virus and Rowe could face life imprisonment.
But Felicity Gerry QC, defending, highlighted comparable cases from around the world, urging the judge to pass a sentence that would not add to the “social stigma” of HIV, but inform the public the virus is not what it was in the 1990s.
Ms Gerry QC highlighted comparable cases from around the world, urging the judge to pass a sentence that would not add to the “social stigma” of HIV, but inform the public the virus is not what it was in the 90s.
“He was a vulnerable young man in a community where the disclosure of one’s HIV status remains unusual, in the context of how he was meeting people,” she said.
“This is not a terminal illness. Those who live with HIV have good and high life expectancies.”
She added: “There really is a need for therapy and not incarceration.”
“Unfortunately for five of the men you met your campaign was successful.”
The judge added: “They describe living with a life sentence as a result of your cruel and senseless acts. Many of those men were young men in their 20s at the time they had the misfortune to meet you.
“Given the facts of this case and your permissive predatory behaviour I cannot see when you would no longer be a danger to gay men.
“In my judgment, the offences, taken together, are so serious, that a life sentence is justified.
“You will potentially remain a danger to others for the rest of your life.”
Sussex Police came under fire over claims they put gay men in danger when they released Rowe on bail, after which he continued his campaign.
Northumbria Police have been accused of wrongfully arresting and detaining one of his unsuspecting victims as he came to terms with his boyfriend’s crimes.
Rowe’s final victim blamed the police for putting him at risk and said more could have been done sooner to stop Rowe’s offending.
It was 18 days after his arrest that Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove City Council urged gay men to get tested for HIV if they had been sexually involved with “a man in his 20s with a Scottish accent”.
Police appealed for anyone with information or potential victims to come forward but refused to publish his name and photo.
He was later identified by a newspaper, prompting widespread media reports. (The Telegraph)