A hairdresser is accused of deliberately infecting four men with HIV, who he’d met through the dating app Grindr, before sending them ‘mocking and abusive’ texts, a court has heard.
26-year-old Daryll Rowe is accused of giving the men the virus, as well as attempting to infect a further six between October 2015 and December 2016.
After communicating with the men on the app, they would later have sex, but in each case, Rowe refused to wear a condom during sexual intercourse or ‘sabotaged’ it shortly before intercourse took place.
One of the texts the 26-year-old allegedly sent said, as reported by the Daily Mail:
Maybe you have the fever cos I came inside you and I have HIV, lol. Whoops!
Rowe, originally from Edinburgh, appeared at Lewes Crown Court charged with four counts of causing grievous bodily harm and six counts of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm, but denies all charges.
The men he had sex with are unable to be named for legal reasons.
Prosecuting, Caroline Carberry said Rowe was diagnosed as HIV positive in April 2015 and had initially been taking retroviral drugs to inhibit the virus – the treatment helps to ensure the virus doesn’t damage the immune system and makes the likelihood of transmitting the disease, extremely low.
Shortly after his diagnosis – where he’d become infected through a casual meet – Rowe moved to Brighton.
Although Rowe initially had nowhere to live or stay, he started making contact with men on the dating app, Grindr, where he would exchange a series of messages with the men before meeting up with them at their homes, where they would have sex.
Miss Carberry said:
Daryll Rowe embarked on a cynical and deliberate campaign to infect other men with HIV, having high risk sexual intercourse knowing he was highly infectious.
Unfortunately for many of the men he met, his campaign was successful.
He deceived those men into believing he was HIV negative, reassuring those he was intimate with.
The court heard how days after having sex with a number of men, Rowe goaded them by telling them he was HIV positive.
In one text message, Rowe wrote:
Maybe you have the fever because I came inside you and I have HIV. Whoops!
Not only did Rowe goad them, he would incessantly message and call them, as well as leave them abusive and insulting messages.
In one message he told a victim:
I ripped the condom. You’re so stupid. You didn’t even know.
The court heard he then repeated the abuse when he called the victim and laughed out loud down the phone.
The victim then tested positive for HIV which showed he had a strain of the virus similar to that suffered by Rowe.
One victim, who was sexually inexperienced, only found out he had HIV when he began to feel feverish and ill.
Another had sex with Rowe but insisted he wear a condom only later to discover the condom in the bathroom sink with the end of ripped off.
Miss Carberry said:
He was extremely concerned and upset about this and repeatedly asked Daryll Rowe whether he was clean which he said he was.
That condom did not split accidentally.
The jury were told how Rowe not only stopped taking retroviral drugs, but also suffered herpes, which increase the chance of infection.
Ms Carberry QC told the jury Rowe met ten men in total – eight in Sussex and two in the north east.
Rowe’s tenth victim – whose house he was staying at when he was arrested in Newcastle in December last year – gave police a bag containing his belongings, which included a box of ripped condoms.
The condoms were in wrappers and the wrappers had already been opened.
The condoms inside had been sabotaged. The nipple end was missing, the condoms had been fully broken, pushed back inside their wrappers and back into the box.
If the aim of a condom is to prevent semen entering the anus or vagina during intercourse, thereby providing reassurance the other party is safe, the only reason a pre-ripped condom is used is to coerce another into having unprotected sexual intercourse.
Sussex Police were contacted in February 2016 and had diagnosed two men as HIV positive – they described having intercourse with a man with a Scottish accent.
Rowe was arrested and in an interview with officers, claimed he wasn’t HIV positive and hadn’t met with or had sex with the two men, who had up until then complained.
He was bailed to an address in Berwick, Northumberland and by the time of the second interview, a number of other alleged victims had come forward.
Rowe was bailed again but went missing and a manhunt was subsequently launched. He was eventually arrested in Wallsend where he was using a false name.
The case – which is due to last six weeks – continues.