The Man Who Deliberately Infected Five Gay Men With HIV Has Been Jailed For Life
There were 10 victims. Half contracted the virus. Half did not. But Daryll Rowe intended to infect all of them.
On Wednesday, six months after being found guilty of five counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and another five of attempted GBH with intent, Rowe, 27, was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 12 years.
Given the time he has already spent on remand, that means he will have to serve a minimum of 10 years and 253 days from now before being eligible for parole.
Shortly after the sentence, one of Rowe's victims â" the youngest of the 10 men who gave evidence against him â" spoke to BuzzFeed News.
"I'm overwhelmed knowing he's in jail. I'm just so glad that I can finally put all of this behind me," he said. As one of the five men who did not contract the virus, he added, "Maybe the people who weren't as lucky as me can move on knowing he's got what he's deserved."
Handing down her sentence at Brighton magistrates court, Judge Christine Henson QC told Rowe that he posed a "significant risk to the public" and she could not see how or when he would no longer do so.
The judge told Rowe he had embarked upon a "deliberate campaign" to infect other men with HIV and was the first person in England to be sentenced for this offence.
Ahead of sentencing, the court heard from Rowe's victims in a series of impact statements revealing how his actions had affected them. One spoke of now often contemplating suicide. Another man said he suffers regular panic attacks.
Judge Henson said the v ictims had described "living with a life sentence".
Rowe who appeared wearing a grey suit and white shirt looked dispassionate throughout.
The Daryll Rowe case was unique in legal history. Never before in English law had anyone been found guilty of deliberately intending to infect others with HIV â" only recklessly. But never before had the police had such a vast trove of evidence necessary to prove intent. That evidence was hundreds of messages that Rowe had sent and exchanged with the men he met through messaging and hook-up apps like Grindr and Whatsapp.
During the trial in October and November 2017, through the testimony of witnesse s and the messages that were read out, the court heard repeated abusive comments so multitudinous as to both form a clear pattern of behaviour and to express clearly his intention: to infect the men he had sex with.
One of the men who testified, and who had previously given an exclusive interview to BuzzFeed News, told how Rowe said to him following sex, which he believed had been protected, that in fact it was not. "Haha I hope you enjoyed my cum inside you," Rowe told him, before describing his method: "I ripped the condom so burn."
To another man, the court heard, Rowe said: "I have HIV LOL. Oops!" followed by, "I'm riddled." To his youngest victim he exchanged hundreds of messages toying with him, admitting he had put him at risk, and then denying it. The prosecution read many of these messages aloud in one of the most dramatic scenes in court.
Some of the men Rowe told he was using a condom but wasn't, or remov ed it during sex. With others, he wore a condom that he had tampered with. When police arrested him for the final time â" after absconding â" they found several condoms with the tips cut off.
Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust (NAT) said: "This is an exceptional case â" the only ever prosecution in the UK of intentional transmission of HIV. Such intentional transmission is serious and deplorable, but this one off case must seen in context.
"People living with HIV are at the forefront of campaigns and work to prevent HIV, and the vast majority are on treatment and therefore cannot pass HIV on. It is vital that this case is not used as an excuse to add to the unacceptable stigma that people living with HIV experience."
The court also heard that Rowe refused to take HIV medication. Antiretrovirals when adhered to properly make it impossible to pass the virus on. But shortly after being diagnosed, Rowe had become what some refer to as an "Aids denialist", refusing to believe HIV causes Aids and that the treatment, which has been proven by millions to work, is a fabricated conspiracy by the pharmaceutical industry.
Instead, Rowe drank his own urine, believing this would cure his HIV. It did not.
This Is What It's Like To Be One Of The Men Infected By HIV In Britain's First Case Of Deliberate Transmission
Patrick Strudwick is a LGBT editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Patrick Strudwick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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