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Criminal Court

Man jailed for 10 years for infecting two former partners with HIV

The victims told the court that the man would tell people to stay away from them because they had the virus.

AN AFRICAN NATIONAL who caused serious harm to two former partners by infecting them with HIV has been jailed for ten years.

The two women revealed in their victim impact statements that the man (28) would tell people to stay away from them because they had the virus.

One woman said the man, who can’t be named to protect the victims’ identities, “began to tell me repeatedly that nobody would want me” after her diagnosis. She said this was the reason she married him.

This woman, in her victim impact report, revealed the man “pestered” her so much and wouldn’t leave her alone, that she ended up in hospital and attempted suicide numerous time. She said he would “tell people I had HIV and not to go near me”.

The second victim said she was close to overdosing on her HIV medication and found it hard to get out of bed when she was first diagnosed. She said when she drank, she got drunk and “on a few occasions I tried to walk out in front of cars”.

She said the man constantly rang, texted and followed her and would tell everyone she talked to that she had HIV.

The woman, in her victim impact statement read out on her behalf, revealed the man told her he still loved her even though he blamed her for infecting him.

This woman said her former partner told her that nobody would want to be with her.

The man, who lives in Dublin, was convicted after a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial earlier this month of intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the two women on dates between November 2009 and June 2010.

He had pleaded not guilty to the offences.

Today Judge Martin Nolan said the man’s behaviour was “grossly reprehensible” and that he had destroyed the two women’s lives.

He said “both injured parties are condemned to take medication for the rest of their lives and they have also been condemned in their ability to establish future relationships”

The judge accepted the man was remorseful, that he was young at the time and had had a difficult upbringing in his home country.

He noted that this case was the first of its kind in the country and that the Director of Public Prosecutions had given him no indication of where to place it in terms of seriousness. The court heard the maximum penalty for serious harm offences is life in prison.

Garda Colm Kelly told Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that the man commenced relationships with both women about the same time in 2009. The women detailed how the man was “reluctant” to use contraception and had unprotected sex in those relationships.

Garda Kelly said one woman found out she was pregnant in early 2010 and tested positive for HIV during ordinary neonatal screening. The man was approached about getting tested for the virus, agreed and “expressed a degree of surprise” when his results came back positive for the infection.

Garda Kelly told McGinn that about the same time, the second woman decided to get screened and found out she was HIV positive in June 2010.

The court heard Dr John Lambert was treating both women at the time and realised they had named the same man as their partner. The man denied any knowledge of the second woman when the doctor spoke to him about her.

Dr Lambert sought the man’s medical records, which revealed he had been diagnosed as HIV positive in 2008 and had received treatment, advice and medication.

He was advised against engaging in unprotected sex and prescribed antiretroviral medication, which would have eliminated his symptoms and rendered him non infectious.

Garda Kelly told McGinn that the man had a positive viral load when he was screened in 2010 and this implied he had not been taking his medication.

The garda said the man’s relationships with the women continued in 2010 to different extents and both victims subsequently had children with him.

He said scientific evidence during the trial showed all three had the same subtype of the infection, as well as the same mutation. The jury heard evidence that prior to their relationships with the man, both women had limited sexual history and used condoms with previous partners.

The man’s former wife read from her victim impact statement, in which she described how her life had “dramatically changed” and how he had taken away her personality, health and positivity.

She said her heart was “smashed into a million pieces” and that she was serving a sentence of her own.

“Now most days I can’t even get up out of bed, never mind encouraging my daughter to go live her own life”, she said.

The second woman said she had isolated herself from everyone, including her family, and that it had affected her ability to look after her daughter.

She said she felt she could not have a healthy relationship because of the damage done and that she would need a lot of therapy to feel happy again.

Paul Greene SC, defending, submitted to Judge Nolan that his client came to Ireland as an asylum seeker, with no parents and no siblings.

He submitted that the man would have a very difficult time in prison as a foreign national who is unwell and because of the notoriety associated with the case.

Counsel said his client regretted the two injured parties had to undergo cross-examination but that it was necessary in defending his case. He asked the judge to take into account that the man’s behaviour was reckless rather than intentional.

The court heard the man has five previous convictions, including four for drugs and one for possessing a knife.

Aoife Nic Ardghail