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A HAIRDRESSER has been found guilty of deliberately trying to infect ten men with HIV after meeting them on Grindr.
Daryll Rowe was yesterday convicted at Lewes Crown Court of five counts of grievous bodily harm with intent, and five counts of attempting to do so.
The jury of seven women and five men returned the verdicts after 18 hours deliberating.
The court was silent, and 27-year-old Rowe sat motionless, as the verdicts were announced just before 4pm.
Initially four unanimous verdicts – three of grievous bodily harm with intent and one of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm – were returned.
Judge Christine Henson QC asked the jury to retire to continue deliberations after the foreman said they had been unable to all agree on verdicts for the remaining six counts.
Moments later, the 12 returned to court to find Rowe guilty by majority verdicts of 11 to one of all the other counts he faced – two of grievous bodily harm with intent, and four of attempting to do so.
During the six-week trial, the court heard how Rowe embarked on a cynical and deliberate campaign to target the men he met on gay dating app Grindr in Brighton and the North East between October 2015 and December last year.
Rowe, now of no fixed abode but originally from Edinburgh, repeatedly denied having unprotected sex, or tampering with condoms in a bid to infect others with the virus he had been diagnosed with months earlier.
He claimed he thought he was cured and denied ever telling his victims he was “clean”.
He moved to Brighton where he met eight of his alleged victims, shortly after being diagnosed with the virus in Edinburgh in April 2015.
Rowe knew he had been diagnosed with the virus when he used the dating app Grindr to meet men for sex and was exposed as someone who lied to all of his victims.
He demanded unprotected sex and if they said no, he wore a condom which he had secretly broken in a bid to infect them.
Lewes Crown Court heard he “played” with some of them who quizzed him when they grew anxious about his HIV status and called them over-dramatic and paranoid.
One of the men tested negative for HIV on the morning he had sex with Rowe, and was not involved with anyone again until he tested positive two months later.
Another described how he had “let his guard down” with Rowe and had been “lulled” into a “false sense of security”.
The hairdresser told his first victim in a text: “I have HIV. Lol. Whoops!” after they had sex. He will be sentenced at a later date.
ROWE’S CAMPAIGN OF INFECTION
AS Daryll Rowe’s evil campaign to infect others continued he also contracted herpes.
This sexually transmitted disease also makes passing on HIV more likely.
Doctors said he was coping well with his diagnosis but became concerned when he stopped turning up to appointments and refused antiretroviral treatment which would make him less contagious.
He was warned he could be prosecuted for passing on the virus or putting someone at risk of contracting it.
By this time two of Rowe’s victims had gone for tests at a sexual health clinic in Brighton and were diagnosed with HIV.
Health professionals became concerned and called police when both provided similar descriptions of the person they had last slept with.
Detectives launched Operation Brickhill and arrested Rowe in February last year.
In his first police interview, he lied about being HIV positive or knowing the first two men who came forward. He was told to stay out of Sussex and answer bail in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland.
The police investigation prompted a public health warning which urged gay men to get tested if they had been involved with a man matching his description. After coverage in The Argus a third victim came forward.
By the time of Rowe’s second police interview, officers had obtained his medical records proving he had lied about his HIV status.
He was released on bail again but in November last year he went on the run, adopting the name Gary Cole and continued his campaign in the North East, targeting two more victims.
Giving evidence, Rowe said he used the fake name so the men he met would not find online media reports about him. When officers tracked him down to his final victim’s house, police were handed his rucksack where a stash of ready-sabotaged condoms was found.
Inside they found three condoms. The wrappers, shown to the court as evidence, had a small rip and the ends of the condoms had been cut off before being rolled back into the black packaging.
One of the victims told how he found a broken, used condom in his sink after they had sex but Rowe denied it was his.
The hairdresser, who would post topless pictures of himself online, repeatedly defended his decisions to refuse medical treatment and have unprotected sex after being diagnosed, claiming he believed he was cured.
He said he read online that drinking urine was a cure but was too embarrassed to tell health professionals or sexual partners he was doing this regularly throughout the day. He also said the police would not understand.
His claims were exposed as a convenient story he used to explain his actions and slither out of the allegations.
Rowe taunted his victims in texts suggesting he had HIV after they had sex.
TWO SIDES TO ‘HIPPIE’
DARYLL Rowe was described as a man with two sides to his personality.
He presented himself as a charming, obliging, softly spoken “vegan hippie” who was looking for love and a relationship.
But he was painted in court as someone who could become a “nasty, angry individual” and embarked on a “cynical” and “deliberate” campaign to infect male lovers with HIV.
Rowe told the court how he had learned to cope with panic attacks and anxiety through meditation, practised yoga and took a keen interest in healthy living.
He became a vegan after turning vegetarian at the age of 18 and said he chose to move to Brighton because of its gay and vegan-friendly atmosphere.
The 27-year-old was “very spiritual” and lived by the mantra of “love, life and positivity”.
He loved star signs, likening himself with characteristics of his Libra symbol of being “relationship orientated”, artistic, creative and balanced.
When he was diagnosed with HIV he claimed he coped well with the news and did not feel anger towards whoever had infected him.
After reading articles about the practice online, he tried urine therapy in a bid to rid himself of the illness. This eventually saw him drinking his own urine every morning and regularly throughout the day, he claimed.
This was supplemented with a whole range of natural remedies, oregano, coconut and olive leaf oils, which were reported online as also helping to combat HIV.
Rowe told the court he truly believed he had been cured of the virus by the time he moved to Brighton, even though he had not taken any medical tests to back this up.
The prosecution stripped away his “obliging” and unassuming persona, branding him a cruel and calculating liar.
The court heard how Rowe sent a string of “horrible” and “cruel” texts to several of his victims once they had been romantically involved and had been “playing” with them when they were worried and questioned his HIV status.
Source: The Argus