Sussex

Daryll Rowe guilty of infecting men with HIV

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Media captionDarryll Rowe told one of his victims 'I got you. Burn, you have it'

A man has been convicted of trying to infect 10 men with HIV in a "campaign" to infect as many as possible.

Daryll Rowe infected five men he had unprotected sex with and sabotaged the condoms of another five in Brighton and Northumberland.

After sex with some of the men he texted mocking messages, including "I have HIV LOL. Oops!" and "I'm riddled".

During the trial hairdresser Rowe, 27, claimed to believe months of drinking his own urine cured him of the virus.

He was convicted at Lewes Crown Court of five counts of causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) and five of attempted GBH.

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Image caption Daryll Rowe met his partners on dating app Grindr, jurors at Lewes Crown Court were told

During the six-week trial the prosecution described Rowe's actions as a "campaign" to infect as many men as possible over a four-month period starting in October 2015 across the Brighton area.

He had relations with eight men he met on dating app Grindr, before moving to Northumberland and having unprotected sex with another two men later in 2016.

Speaking after the verdict, Nigel Pilkington, deputy chief crown prosecutor in the South East, said he believed there "may well be more men out there" who had fallen victim to Rowe, of no fixed address.

Throughout the case Rowe was described as a "control freak" who would shift between being charming and "jealous".

Mr Pilkington said he was a "cruel and callous man" whose crimes were "akin to stabbing or shooting somebody".

Mr Pilkington added: "The absolute deliberate infection of other men by a man, is not something I've ever come across in 25 years as a prosecutor and I don't expect to ever come across a case like it again.

"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."

'Like rape'

Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National Aids Trust (NAT), said Rowe's behaviour was "utterly exceptional and vanishingly rare".

She added that the majority of HIV transmissions are by people who are unaware they have the virus.

Speaking after the hearing, one of Rowe's victims, whose biological parents both had HIV and later died, said the news of his condition drove him to a suicide attempt.

"I was always so careful," he said.

"My dad was a junkie and she was a very young mother. I was always trying to run away from that lifestyle, That's why I always insisted on condoms."

He added it was a "reminder of my past".

"I feel it's come full-circle, and has made this my new life, which is very unfair," he added.

"[Rowe] called me over and over. He admitted to ripping the condom.

"He said, 'I got you. Burn, you have it' and he was laughing at me. There was menace in his voice, it was an insane conversation. It was horrific to hear. I was in a dark place.

"It's a violation. I could only describe it as feeling like you've been raped, not the physical side of it, but the mental side."

'Persistent and aggressive'

Rowe will be sentenced on 29 January.

Det Insp Andy Wolstenholme of Sussex Police said: "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.

At the end of the trial it emerged two dock officers were sacked after falling asleep while evidence was being given.

Loud snoring disturbed the hearing on 5 October and they were both removed from the proceedings.

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