Friday 20 September 2019

Seven women may have been deliberately infected with HIV

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Ken Foy and Declan Brennan

Gardaí believe an African national who was convicted of causing serious harm to two former partners by infecting them with HIV may have passed the virus on to up to five other women.

In the first case of its kind here, the State alleged the 28-year-old man was aware of his diagnosis when he infected the women and that this amounted to serious harm.

After an 11-day trial and just under four-and-a-half hours of deliberations, the jury of nine women and three men returned unanimous guilty verdicts on both charges.

Officers now fear that the man may have infected up to five other women in Dublin and other areas of the country over the past decade.

The man, who lives in Dublin, cannot be named to protect the identities of the complainants in the case.

He had 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.

Judge Martin Nolan refused a defence application for bail. He said there was some risk of the man fleeing and a custodial sentence was quite likely. The maximum penalty for the offence is life.

The judge remanded the man in custody to appear again in court on July 26 for sentencing.

He thanked the jury for carrying out its duty and said the case had been a pretty difficult one with unusual type of evidence.

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

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

He reminded the jury that it had heard condoms, "if used correctly, effectively stop transmission" and that oral sex does not lead to infection.

Mr McGinn said there was no evidence that any of the complainants' previous partners were HIV positive.

He told the jury 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 said.

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

Irish Independent

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