Victims of hairdresser who infected men with HIV tell of their pain

Daryll Rowe faces jail today for deliberately infecting his lovers with HIV

A hairdresser who deliberately infected his gay lovers with HIV has been jailed for life today.

Daryll Rowe, originally from Edinburgh, infected five men from the Brighton area and the North East with HIV while five others narrowly escaped contracting the life-changing virus.

The 27-year-old was handed a life sentence today and ordered a serve at least 12 years following a first-of-its-kind case.

Judge Christine Henson QC, sentencing, referred to his crimes as a ‘determined hateful campaign of sly violence’.

‘You are the first individual to be sentenced for Section 18 offences in the context of infecting others with HIV,’ she said

‘With the full knowledge of the risk you posed to others and the legal implications of engaging in risky sexual practices, you embarked on a deliberate campaign to infect other men with the HIV virus.

‘Unfortunately for five of the men you met your campaign was successful.’

The judge added: ‘They describe living with a life sentence as a result of your cruel and senseless acts. Many of those men were young men in their 20s at the time they had the misfortune to meet you.’

The judge told Rowe he poses a significant risk to the public, adding: ‘You will potentially remain a danger to others for the rest of your life.’

In a victim impact statement read out ahead of his sentencing, one of Rowe’s victims told of the lasting impact of the crimes.

The victim told the court: ‘I think about committing suicide all the time. I don’t feel I can trust anyone. Daryll has destroyed my life.’

Victims say crimes left them suicidal

Prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC today read out statements from nine of Rowe;’s 10 victims, which she said showed the ‘devastating consequences’ of Rowe’s actions. 

Rowe’s first victim told how he had considered taking his own life after he was diagnosed with HIV in January 2016.

He said: ‘Daryll has destroyed my life. I would rather he had murdered me than left me to live my life like this.’ 

Another said: ‘While for some cases of GBH it might be possible for victims to put the acts behind them, unfortunately this will never be the case for me,’ said a different victim, who requires daily medication.

‘There is a virus inside me which will give me a horrible and painful death unless I take pills for the rest of my life.’ 

Another man said: ‘Rowe has never shown any sympathy or compassion to any of his victims. 

‘He has only shown arrogance, selfishness and an utter lack of morality. He has always cold-heartedly lied. I do not think i can forgive him for what he has done.’  

A psychiatric report read to the court concluded Rowe’s crimes showed a high level of sadism and violence and as such he was a high risk or causing serious harm to gay men through similar offences. 

In mitigation Felicity Gerry QC, defending, said said Rowe was a vulnerable young man who needed ‘treating’ and should not be punished too harshly as he was also a victim of the virus. 

‘We reject the claim he showed any hostility towards any gay man, he is a gay man himself. It is not a terminal illness. Those who live with HIV have a good and high life expectancy. This is a case for a modern approach, away from the scaremongering of the 1990s.’ 

Rowe is said to have given the men the virus in a ‘revenge’ campaign on the gay community after he was diagnosed with HIV.

He sent a taunting message to one of victims, texting: ‘Maybe you have the fever. I came inside you and I have HIV LOL. Oops!’ 

Rowe made contact with men on the gay dating app, Grindr, and would exchange a series of messages with the men before meeting up with them at their homes where they would have sex.

Lewes Crown Court has heard Rowe had hatched the plan almost the moment he received the news that he had contracted HIV from his previous boyfriend in April 2015.

He was told about the treatments available but stunned medical staff in his home city of Edinburgh by informing them he did not want to take anti-retroviral drugs.

Rowe continued to target men even after he was questioned by the police. He was eventually charged and a first-of-its-kind trial was brought at Lewes Crown Court (pictured)

Rowe continued to target men even after he was questioned by the police. He was eventually charged and a first-of-its-kind trial was brought at Lewes Crown Court (pictured)

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.

He was finally put on trial last year and found guilty of five counts of causing grievous bodily harm and five of attempting to cause GBH in a prosecution hailed as the first of its kind.

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

Police footage showed Rowe being interviewed by officers and telling them he did not have HIV.

He was asked: ‘Do you have HIV?’ He replied: ‘No.’ 

Ex-boyfriend of jailed hairdresser brands him a ‘menace to society’ 

Rowe’s ex-boyfriend branded him a ‘menace to society’ following his sentence for deliberately spreading HIV.

The former partner, himself a victim of the ‘sociopath’, has been badly affected by the ordeal which included being arrested alongside Rowe in his own home.

He is clear of HIV despite Rowe trying to infect him.

The victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said: ‘As long as he has strength in his body, he will be a risk.

‘He is a menace to society… He is a sociopath because I don’t think he has any regard for other people’s feelings.’

The man, from North Tyneside, said it had taken a while for him to trust Rowe – at the time using the alias Gary Cole – and their relationship slowly developed.

Rowe told his partner about having a troubled upbringing, and he said of Rowe: ‘I think he has a lot of anger issues, he was quite abusive towards me.

‘He is very charming, most people would he is a good looking guy and he has that Edinburgh accent.’

Rowe also talked about having children naturally and being bisexual, but that he preferred men.

The ex-partner said their relationship ended when the police knocked on his door.

As the bewildered boyfriend spoke to police at the front door, Rowe was trying to escape through a bedroom window, eventually falling and breaking a vertebra.

The boyfriend said he was arrested and questioned by Northumbria Police for more than five hours before he was released.

He said: ‘I don’t let many people into my life so this has been a setback. I never intend to have anyone else in my life again.’

He advised people, whatever their sex or sexuality, to be more circumspect about whether a potential partner had HIV.

He said: ‘People in the 1980s and 90s used to say “assume nothing” about HIV. We need to be taking a lot more precautions.’


Timeline of hairdresser’s ‘revenge’ campaign against gay men

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.

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 the Wallsend, 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.

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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