A man has been convicted of deliberately trying to infect 10 men with HIV in the UK.
Daryll Rowe, a 27-year-old hairdresser, found his victims through the dating app Grindr.
Lewes Crown Court heard that he would persuade the men he met to have unprotected sex with him by insisting he was not carrying the virus. If they refused he would deliberately sabotage condoms.
Police said he sent vindictive text messages to some of his victims goading them and even telling one man, after they had had sex, that he was riddled with the virus.
At least four of his victims are now HIV positive.
He was today found guilty of five counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and five counts of attempted grievous bodily harm.
Persistent and aggressive
Sussex Police Detective Inspector Andy Wolstenholme 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.”
“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, will now be imprisoned."
Kat Smithson from the British National Aids Trust said this is the first such case in the UK:
“We have never heard of anything like this before,” she said. “What we would say always is that you are far more likely to acquire HIV from someone who is unaware of their status and therefore that is why getting regularly tested is really, really important.”
Sussex Police said Rowe was arrested in February 2016 after a health clinic in Brighton noticed similarities in the way two of its clients reported contracting HIV.
Warnings were issued to the public about an unnamed man who had been infecting people; however Rowe was released on police bail after denying both the allegations and his own diagnosis:
Police later uncovered evidence that he had been diagnosed with the virus in his hometown of Edinburgh in April 2015.
He had refused medication to treat the illness and to make him less contagious.
Police said that after his release, Rowe travelled to the north of England where he met with more men - giving them a false name for fear they would look him up online as he had been named on social media.
"This trial is the first time that a person has been charged and convicted of deliberately infecting others with HIV in the country,” said Detective Inspector Wolstenholme.
"The verdict today is very welcome.
“It will bring some closure to the victims who have been very strong and supportive through the investigation.
“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.
The case has been put back for sentencing in late-January to allow time for psychiatric reports to be prepared.