A student deliberately infected with HIV by serial attacker Daryll Rowe has described how the hairdresser seemed “such a genuine person” despite his secret campaign to spread the disease.
The 28-year-old victim, originally from Brighton, was so shocked when he discovered Rowe’s vendetta that he initially thought it was an accident.
He said: “I’ll never, ever be able to understand or comprehend why Daryll did this to people and it has shattered my trust in people. I’ve never been able to get my head around it and I don’t think I ever will.
“The crazy thing when I look back is that he seemed such a genuine person. He seemed to be the one more committed. I liked him but he seemed more into the relationship and the more affectionate and jealous.
“He’d often say I didn’t show him enough affection, so his feelings for me seemed very real, and I was certainly of the opinion that we were exclusively seeing each other. Despite this there was obviously nothing real at all, as all the time he was with me to infect me.”
He had a two-month relationship with Rowe, and another two months after the pair split up was contacted by a sexual health clinic asking him to have an HIV test, which came back positive.
“I couldn’t believe that he would have done it to me deliberately. I thought at the time it must have been an accident on me, as I felt our relationship had been real,” the game design student said.
“Finding out he had been arrested and then charged with this stuff was just completely mind-blowing. I was being told I had HIV, but not only did I have that to contend with mentally, but also how it had happened and why.
“I just felt like my life had been ruined, and that nobody would want to know me. There is still a huge stigma to HIV and I thought that no men would want to come near me, I felt like I had been left with a poison inside me.”
The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, has received a £22,000 payout from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) after losing his job, flat and place at university when he fell into depression after the devastating news.
Rowe was the first man in the UK to be convicted of deliberately spreading HIV when he was found guilty of infecting five men and trying to infect five more in 2017, and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 years.
Diagnosed with the virus in his home city of Edinburgh in April 2015, he then started a campaign to infect other men by lying to sexual partners that he was HIV negative, or by tampering with condoms.
He moved to Brighton and began to meet men online, having sexual relationships with eight of them.
Once he knew he was under investigation by police, he moved to Berwick-upon-Tweed, apparently to comply with bail conditions, and had unprotected sex with another two men, using a false name so they did not discover his true identity.
Rowe, now 28, would taunt his victims after he had slept with them, sending one a text message that read: “I have HIV. Lol. Whoops!”
He attempted to appeal against his conviction and life sentence, but was rejected earlier this month, with High Court judges agreeing that he is “dangerous”.
In separate proceedings in Scotland in May, Rowe was sentenced to eight years after admitting four incidents where he had unprotected sex with men, one of whom contracted HIV.
The Brighton victim, who is now back in work and has a place on a university course studying game design, says he is managing his HIV successfully and it will have no impact on his life expectancy.
His lawyer, Victoria Neale, from Hudgell Solicitors, said: “There can be no doubt that our client has suffered significantly, both physically and psychologically, as a result of the actions of Daryll Rowe.
“Although no amount of money can lessen the impact of what happened to our client in this case, it will go some way to helping him rebuild his life, having found himself running into financial difficulties in the aftermath of what had happened to him.
“It is entirely understandable that, having been a victim of such a horrific offence, our client found it difficult to face things such as work and university. It has only been through counselling, support and now this damages claim that he has been able to start rebuilding his life.”
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