Saturday 23 March 2019

Jury begins deliberations in trial of man (28) accused of infecting two former partners with HIV

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A jury in the trial of an African national accused of causing serious harm to two former partners by infecting them with HIV has begun deliberations.

The 28-year-old cannot be named to protect the identities of the complainants in the case. He has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the two women on dates between November 2009 and June 2010.

It is the State's case that the man was aware of his diagnosis when he infected the women and that this amounted to serious harm. The court has heard it is the first case of its kind in the country.

The jury retired to consider its verdicts this afternoon and will return to tomorrow to resume deliberations.

In his closing address to the jury, prosecution counsel Dominic McGinn SC submitted that expert witnesses have said that all three parties have the same subtype and mutations of the virus.

Mr McGinn suggested that the complainants had “remarkably similar” accounts and said they used condoms with previous partners.

Counsel reminded the jury that it had heard condoms “if used correctly effectively stops transmission” and that oral sex doesn't lead to infection. He said there was no evidence that any of the complainants' previous partners were HIV positive.

He told the jury that the man lied to the complainants' doctor about his positive diagnosis and “went through the charade” of being tested again for the virus in 2010.

“He knew full well he was HIV positive. He was advised about having safe sex. He admitted that to gardaí and he was given antiviral medication and he didn't take it,” Mr McGinn submitted to the jury.

Mr McGinn suggested that the accused was guilty on both charges against him because he acted recklessly and caused serious harm to the complainants.

Defence counsel Paul Greene SC submitted that both of the complainants told lies in court about their previous sexual history. He suggested this meant their overall evidence was unreliable.

He highlighted how Dr John Lambert, the clinician treating the women, had said the accused had an African strain of the virus and that he had never seen an African patient who didn't have this strain.

Mr Greene said that the jury heard evidence from evolutionary genetics expert Prof Andrew Leigh Brown that the accused does not have this strain.

Counsel said Prof Leigh Brown stated that this was the first case in which he had been called to give evidence where special scientific testing was not done.

Mr Greene submitted to the jurors that this phylogenetic analysis would have been an important investigative tool to exclude other sources of infection. He said that the testing would have meant “you don't have to make decisions based on probabilities, founded on evidence that is unreliable.”

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury of nine women and three men.

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