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Hairdresser jailed for trying to infect men with HIV loses legal challenge

Leading judges in London rejected applications by Daryll Rowe to challenge both his conviction and life sentence.

A man found guilty of deliberately trying to infect 10 men with HIV has lost challenges against his conviction and sentence.

Hairdresser Daryll Rowe watched proceedings via video link from prison as leading judges rejected his appeal applications on Thursday.

Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with two other judges at the Court of Appeal in London, announced that the grounds presented on his behalf in relation to both conviction and sentence were “unarguable”.

Rowe, now 28, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 12 years by a judge at Brighton Crown Court in April.

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Rowe during a police interview where he denied having HIV (Sussex Police/PA)

He became the first man in the country to be found guilty of intentionally setting out to spread the virus.

Felicity Gerry QC had argued on Rowe’s behalf during the appeal proceedings that a submission of “no case to answer” should have been accepted by the trial judge.

She said: “Our primary submissions are that the submission of no case to answer should have succeeded.

“That not having succeeded, the summing up was inadequate.”

But the prosecution argued that there was “no merit” in the “bold” submissions made on Rowe’s behalf.

Rowe was convicted of 10 charges – five of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and five of attempting to do so.

His victims cannot be identified for legal reasons and Lady Justice Hallett emphasised that nothing must be published which could lead to their identification.

At his trial, Rowe was accused of launching a deliberate campaign to infect gay men he met on a dating app after being diagnosed in April 2015 in his home city of Edinburgh.

He had sex with eight of them in Brighton, East Sussex, between October that year and February 2016, and later with two others in the North East.

Rowe told jurors he believed he had been cured of the virus by the time he moved to Brighton, having adopted the practice of drinking his own urine as a treatment, supplemented with natural remedies, including oregano, coconut and olive leaf oils.

Lady Justice Hallett said the court was “entirely satisfied” that the trial judge “was right to refuse to withdraw the case from the jury”.

Announcing the decision on the conviction application, she said: “We are satisfied that the grounds of appeal are unarguable.”

The appeal judges concluded that nothing raised on Rowe’s behalf had “undermined the safety of the conviction”.

Lady Justice Hallett said the trial was a “thorough review of the evidence and the issues”, and the summing up was “full and fair”.

She added: “The issues were straight forward and the jury convicted on a powerful case.”

It was argued during the hearing that Rowe’s sentence was “manifestly excessive” and “wrong in principle”.

But Lady Justice Hallett announced: “A life sentence is a sentence of last resort,  reserved for cases of extreme gravity, but in this case we are satisfied that the judge was right to conclude that the applicant is dangerous.”

She added: “The nature and seriousness of the offences was such that only a life sentence was justified, despite the applicant’s age and his previous background.”

Rowe was convicted in November last year,  and when sentenced by Judge Christine Henson QC in April she told him that statements from victims described “living with a life sentence as a result of your cruel and senseless acts”.

Victims told how they had considered suicide having suffered physical and psychological damage, needing to take daily medication.

Rowe’s first victim, who was diagnosed with HIV in January 2016, said: “Daryll has destroyed my life. I would rather he had murdered me than left me to live my life like this.”

The hairdresser, who had refused treatment, insisted on having unprotected sex with men, claiming he was “clean”.  When they refused he tampered with condoms, tricking them into thinking he was practising safe sex.

He taunted them over text, telling one: “I have HIV. Lol. Whoops!”

In separate proceedings in Scotland in May,  Rowe was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh to four incidents where he intentionally had unprotected sex with partners, while fully aware he was HIV positive.

One of the men went on  to contract HIV.

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