Police under fire for freeing man who tried to pass on HIV

Daryll Rowe has been told he could face a life sentence for deliberately infecting men with HIV through unprotected sex and by sabotaging condoms

Police have come under fire over claims they put gay men in danger when they allowed a hairdresser who deliberately infected his lovers with HIV to walk free on bail.

Daryll Rowe, 27, was convicted at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday of trying to deliberately infect 10 men with the virus.

When first arrested by Sussex Police, he had already preyed upon eight men, his trial heard.

He was ordered to stay out of Sussex and answer bail in Northumberland but he went on the run, targeting two more men in the North East before he was finally detained again and kept in custody. 

Rowe’s final victim blamed police for putting him at risk and said more could have been done sooner to stop Rowe’s offending.

He also criticised officers for arresting him and accusing him of aiding Rowe.

The 42-year-old, who is considering taking legal action, said: ‘I blame the police for letting him go in the first place.

‘There is no way in hell he should ever have been allowed out of Brighton police station.’

One of his victims criticised police for freeing Rowe (pictured) before he targeted other men

One of his victims criticised police for freeing Rowe (pictured) before he targeted other men

One of his victims criticised police for freeing Rowe (pictured) before he targeted other men

It was 18 days after Rowe’s arrest by the time the force and Brighton and Hove City Council urged gay men to get tested for HIV if they had been sexually involved with ‘a man in his 20s with a Scottish accent’.

This accompanied an appeal for anyone with information, or potential victims, to come forward.

But the force refused to publish a more detailed description of Rowe, such as his name or photo.

He was later identified by a local newspaper, prompting widespread media reports.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: ‘They should have released more detail about him. He used a fake name with me but if there had been a picture I would have found out or friends would have warned me.

‘They could have done more to protect us.’

He hit out at the conduct of Northumbria Police officers who arrested him at his home in North Tyneside alongside fugitive Rowe on December 24, last year.

He said: ‘They arrested me on suspicion of aiding and abetting. I had no idea what was going on. This one officer said I was lying and I knew about it.

‘I was taken to a police station and kept in a cell for five-and-a-half hours after finding out he might have infected me with HIV. It was just awful.’

He said Rowe’s controlling behaviour in their relationship then made sense, adding: ‘He wouldn’t let me watch the news and wore a hood when we went to the shops.’

Once other officers realised the error, the man was treated as a victim and fully supported by both forces throughout the investigation and prosecution, he said.

Only two of Rowe’s victims had spoken to officers at that time of his first arrest and release. 

Rowe refused NHS treatment for the virus and instead hatched a 'revenge' campaign

Hairdresser Daryll Rowe has been found guilty of deliberately infecting lovers with HIV

Rowe refused NHS treatment for the virus and instead hatched a ‘revenge’ campaign

Sussex Police force stood by its decision to keep Rowe’s identity secret but said it did not ask for the victim to be arrested.

A spokesman said there was not enough evidence to detain Rowe when he was first arrested and the case was ‘unprecedented in English law’.

She added: ‘The health and wellbeing of potential victims was the primary focus and releasing the suspect’s name was not in the public interest because in this case it was felt it could lull some people, who had potentially been infected, into a false sense of security because of the risk of secondary infection [if someone had not had sex with Rowe, but may have been involved with one of his partners].

‘We also believed the suspect may have used a variety of usernames when contacting people online so putting out his name may have meant some people failed to identify Daryll Rowe.

‘We achieved the charges and conviction through careful and detailed investigation to get justice for all the victims.’

Detective Inspector Andy Wolstenholme, the senior investigating officer in the case, said the force responded quickly when they learned of the risks posed by Rowe and worked closely with other authorities to support victims who were as ‘instrumental’ in bringing him to justice.

He added: ‘We recognise this case has been extremely traumatic for the victims and their families.’

A Northumbria Police spokesman confirmed officers from the force were present during the arrest operation, but said: ‘We have received a complaint in relation to this case, the outcome of which is yet to be established.

‘It would therefore be inappropriate to publicly comment at this stage.’

Timeline of infected hairdresser’s twisted ‘revenge’ campaign

April 2015 – Daryll Rowe is diagnosed with HIV.

October 2015 – The 26-year-old moves to Brighton, East Sussex, after speaking to men who live in the city on gay dating app Grindr.

October 2015 to February 2016 – Rowe meets and has sex with eight different men in Brighton.

Rowe went on the run and tried to infect more men after he was caught by police

Rowe went on the run and tried to infect more men after he was caught by police

February 5 2016 – Sussex Police arrest and question the hairdresser in Brighton when sexual health clinic staff raise concerns after two patients contracting HIV provide similar descriptions of the person they had sex with. Rowe denies being HIV positive or knowing the two men. He is released on bail until April and told to stay out of Sussex.

February 23 2016 – Police and health officials publish a warning, urging gay men in Brighton and Hove to get tested if they had sex with a ‘a man in his 20s with a Scottish accent’. Another victim comes forward.

May 2016 – Officers question Rowe again when he answers bail in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland. By this time they have his medical records and know he has lied about being HIV positive. He is re-bailed twice until November.

November 2016 – Rowe goes on the run. Sussex and Northumbria police forces launch a manhunt. He is found at the home of another man in North Tyneside and is arrested. Officers are handed his rucksack which is found to contain condoms which were tampered with before being placed back into the packet. Rowe is remanded in custody.

December 2016 – Police charge Rowe with seven counts of causing grievous bodily harm and one count of attempting to do so. He appears in custody at Newcastle Crown Court on Boxing Day and the case is transferred to Lewes Crown Court.

February 2017 – Rowe denies the charges, which are amended several times over the coming months as more victims come forward and their HIV status changes.

October 2017 – By the time Rowe stands trial he faces allegations from 10 men. During the proceedings the indictment is amended for a final time, to reflect five charges of grievous bodily harm with intent and five of attempting to do so.

November 2017 – Rowe is convicted of all ten charges by the jury panel of seven women and five men.


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