COUNTY NEWS: Life sentence for man who deliberately infected men with HIV

Daryll Rowe (Photograph: Sussex Police)
Daryll Rowe (Photograph: Sussex Police)

A ‘dangerous’ man who set out to deliberately infect men in Sussex with HIV has been handed a life sentence, police said.

Daryll Rowe, 27, was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court today (April 18) and was told he would have to serve at least 10 years in prison before being considered for release.

Daryll Rowe, Lewes Crown Court (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell) SUS-171116-122626001

Daryll Rowe, Lewes Crown Court (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell) SUS-171116-122626001

On November 15 last year, Rowe was found guilty of five counts of grievous bodily harm and five counts of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent, by deliberately infecting his victims with HIV.

The counts relate to incidents in the Sussex area between October 1 2015 and January 31 2016.

Police said Rowe persuaded his victims to have unsafe sex with him by telling them he was negative for HIV or would deliberately sabotage condoms.

At least four of the men have contracted HIV, police said.

Sussex Police said at his sentencing today, Rowe was told by the judge Christine Henson that he would most probably pose a risk and danger to others for the rest of his life.

She said: “After considering all the aggravating features and considerable premeditation in this case, I sentence you to life imprisonment.”

During sentencing, the court heard statements from some of Rowe’s victims about the impact contracting HIV had on their lives.

One victim said: “This virus took away my parents, my biological father and mother died of AIDS when I was only a kid. This disease is something I never took lightly. I did everything to prevent the virus from ever catching me. I educated myself on safe sex and always used a condom but on 13 November 2015, Daryll Rowe decided to take that right away from me.

“A part of me died that day when I was diagnosed. The old me is no longer. The new me is constantly sad, thinking about how my life changed. I have been devastated by Rowe’s actions but I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Trial

Sussex Police said during his seven-week trial last year, the court heard how Rowe met his victims on the online dating site Grindr, and would persuade them to have unsafe sex or deliberately sabotage condoms.

Afterwards he would send vindictive messages or texts to the men he had met goading them or even telling one victim after they had sex that he was HIV positive, police said.

Rowe told the jury that he researched alternative therapies online and believed that drinking his own urine daily would cure him.

Police added that right from his initial interview with officers, Rowe denied having HIV and denied infecting others.

But police said evidence proved that he had been diagnosed with the disease in April 2015 in Edinburgh, where he was originally from, and he had refused medication to treat the illness and to make him less contagious.

Detective Inspector Andy Wolstenholme said: “This sentence is hugely important for Rowe’s victims, and the communities that he deliberately targeted.

“It will bring some closure to the victims who have been very strong and supportive through the investigation. The victim impact statements, which were heard in court, were incredibly moving and really conveyed the victims’ sense of betrayal at Rowe’s offences. By bravely giving evidence in the trial, it sends a clear message that despite the complex and highly sensitive nature of such a case, the police and prosecutors will not shy away from investigating allegations of deliberate HIV transmission in order to keep people safe. It is essential to acknowledge that one individual’s behaviour is in no way representative of any other individual who is living with HIV.

“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. The victims have demonstrated real strength of character in speaking out about this, and because of this strength and the hard work of the detectives, staff and partners working on the case, a dangerous man, who betrayed the trust of many men, is now in prison.”

If you have been affected by this case and need health advice and support, click here.

For any questions or concerns in relation to HIV , call the Terrence Higgins Trust on 0808 8021221.

If you wish to speak to police about this investigation, email brickhill@sussex.pnn.police.uk