A man who deliberately tried to infect 10 men with HIV was told by one of his victims: “I would rather he had murdered me than left me to live my life like this” as he was given a life sentence on Wednesday. Daryll Rowe, a 27-year-old hairdresser from Brighton, showed no emotion as he was told that he must serve at least 12 years for the “determined, hateful campaign of sly violence” during a sentencing hearing at the city’s crown court.
“As long as he has strength in his body, he will be a risk,” Rowe’s 10th victim, who was not infected, said after the hearing. “He is a menace to society. He is a sociopath because I don’t think he has any regard for other people’s feelings.” Other victims told how they had considered suicide, having suffered physical and psychological damage at Rowe’s hands.
One, whose parents died of Aids when he was a child, said he “did everything” to prevent himself catching the virus. “Daryll Rowe decided to take that right away from me. A part of me died that day when I was diagnosed. The old me is no longer. The new me is constantly sad, thinking about how my life changed. I have been devastated by Rowe’s actions, but I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
The judge, Christine Henson QC, told Rowe he had acted “with the full knowledge of the risk you posed to others” in a “deliberate campaign to infect other men” with HIV. “Unfortunately for five of the men you met, your campaign was successful.”
She said Rowe was the first person to be sentenced for grievous bodily harm in such circumstances and told him he would “potentially remain a danger to others for the rest of [his] life”.
After being diagnosed in April 2015 in his home city of Edinburgh, Rowe met men through the gay dating app Grindr. He had sex with eight of them in Brighton, in East Sussex, between October that year and February 2016, before fleeing to north-east England, where he targeted two more men.
His six-week trial heard that he refused treatment and ignored advice from doctors. He insisted on having unprotected sex with the men he met, claiming that he was “clean”. When they refused, he tampered with condoms, tricking them into thinking that he was practising safe sex.
Afterwards, Rowe became aggressive, and taunted some of his victims in text messages. He told one: “I have HIV. Lol. Whoops!” He repeatedly lied to authorities and would use aliases with the people he targeted.
Sentencing him on Wednesday, the judge told him: “Many of those men were young men in their 20s at the time they had the misfortune to meet you. Given the facts of this case and your permissive, predatory behaviour, I cannot see when you would no longer be a danger to gay men. In my judgment, the offences, taken together, are so serious that a life sentence is justified.”
Rowe appeared in court wearing a grey suit and an open-collared white shirt. He was convicted of five charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and five of attempting to do so.
During his trial, he told jurors he believed he had been cured of HIV by the time he moved to Brighton, having started drinking his own urine as a treatment, supplemented with natural remedies.