Daryll Rowe, 27, 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.
He was found guilty of five counts of causing grievous bodily harm and five of attempting to cause GBH yesterday in a prosecution hailed as the first of its kind.
A court heard he infected the men in a ‘revenge’ campaign on the gay community after he was diagnosed with HIV.
The extent of Rowe’s malicious scheme to take ‘revenge’ on the gay community following his diagnosis was laid bare in a six-week trial.
After the verdict, one of Rowe’s victims anonymously told the media that he was driven to the verge of suicide when he found out he was infected after both his parents died of AIDS.
He said: ‘I was always so careful.
‘My dad was a junkie and she was a very young mother. I was always trying to run away from that lifestyle, that’s why I always insisted on condoms.’
He added it was a ‘reminder of my past’.
‘I feel it’s come full-circle, and has made this my new life, which is very unfair,’ he added.
‘[Rowe] called me over and over. He admitted to ripping the condom.
‘He said, “I got you. Burn, you have it” and he was laughing at me. There was menace in his voice, it was an insane conversation. It was horrific to hear. I was in a dark place.
‘It’s a violation. I could only describe it as feeling like you’ve been raped, not the physical side of it, but the mental side.’
The judge adjourned sentencing until next year but warned Rowe he could face a life sentence for his crimes.
It comes as video 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.’
When asked if he had a test for the virus recently, he said: ‘Not recently, I had a relationship when I first got here.
‘It was unprotected so I have not been tested after that. When I first got here I was dating somebody pretty quickly. It got pretty intense.’
Lewes Crown Court has heard Rowe had hatched the plan almost the moment he received the news in April 2015 that he had contracted HIV from his previous boyfriend.
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.
He then failed to attend further follow-up appointments in September and October 2015 because he had already moved to Brighton to embark on his plan.
Although he initially had nowhere to live or stay, he began to make contact with men on the gay dating app, Grindr.
Rowe would exchange a series of messages with the men before meeting up with them at their homes where they would have sex.
Speaking after his convictions today, Detective Inspector Andy Wolstenholme said: ‘This trial is the first time that a person has been charged and convicted of deliberately infecting others with HIV in the country.
‘The verdict today is very welcome. It will bring some closure to the victims who have been very strong and supportive through the investigation.
‘By bravely giving evidence in the trial, it sends a clear message that despite the complex and highly sensitive nature of such a case, the police and prosecutors will not shy away from investigating allegations of deliberate HIV transmission in order to keep people safe.’
Rowe’s first victim picked up the hairdresser in his car and they had unprotected sex. But when the man panicked and refused to continue Rowe became extremely hostile.
The man said he feared for his safety as Rowe became furious and accused him of ‘wasting his evening’.
The victim told the court: ‘He wouldn’t leave. It felt like an hour of him going on and on. I thought he was so angry he was going to throw a brick at my car.
‘I thought I’d have to go back to work and explain a black eye or something. He was really angry. He got out of the car. I cried all the way home.’
Shocked by his behaviour, the victim refused to meet Rowe again which led the hairdresser to send a series of abusive texts taunting him.
In one he said: ‘Maybe you have the fever. I came inside you and I have HIV LOL. Oops!’
Weeks later the first victim began to develop flu-like symptoms and was later diagnosed as HIV positive.
Rowe quickly devised an alternative plan and as he put on the condom in the dark bedroom he ripped off the end before the pair had intercourse.
Days later, Rowe began taunting and abusing the man by text message and told him: ‘I ripped the condom. Burn. I got you.’
Alive to the possibility men could insist on safe sex, Rowe decided to leave nothing to chance.
He bought his own condoms and ‘sabotaged’ them so his victims wouldn’t notice the damage and he could continue to spread the virus.
A pattern was set. If a victim refused to agree to unprotected sex he could simply reach for one of his carefully torn condoms, hoodwinking his unsuspecting victim into thinking he was having safe sex.
Caroline Carberry QC told Lewes Crown Court: ‘Daryll Rowe embarked on a cynical and deliberate campaign to infect other men with HIV, having high risk sexual intercourse knowing he was highly infectious.
‘Unfortunately for many of the men he met his campaign was successful. He deceived those men into believing he was HIV negative, rea
Rowe’s malicious crusade to infect as many men as possible was discovered after victims began to fall ill and went to police.
Fearing there was a lone suspect attempting to spread HIV to as many men as possible, a public health warning was issued.
When the first two men were diagnosed with HIV, police swooped and arrested Rowe who subsequently denied having HIV and claimed he had never met the men concerned.
Between February and April a number of other men came forward after reading about the warning in the local press.
Rowe was released and bailed to the address of a relative in North Berwick, near Edinburgh but he absconded and continued his plan, having sex with two further men before eventually being apprehended.
Rowe became a vegan after turning vegetarian at the age of 18 and said he chose to move to Brighton because of its gay and vegan-friendly atmosphere.
He was ‘very spiritual’ and lived by the mantra of ‘love, life and positivity’. He loved star signs, likening himself with characteristics of his Libra symbol of being ‘relationship orientated’, artistic, creative and balanced.
After he was diagnosed with HIV in April 2015, he said he tried urine therapy in a bid to rid himself of the illness. This eventually saw him drinking his own urine every morning and regularly throughout the day, he claimed.
This was supplemented with a whole range of natural remedies, oregano, coconut and olive leaf oils, which were reported online as also helping to combat HIV, he claimed.
But the prosecution stripped away his unassuming, healthy-living persona and exposed him as a cruel and calculating liar.
It emerged he would use fillers to plump up his top lip. He said he was told this was a synthetic version of acid naturally found in the body so he was comfortable with having the injections and admitted taking prescribed medication after contracting gonorrhoea, genital warts and herpes.
The court also heard how he sent a string of ‘horrible’ and ‘cruel’ text messages to several of his victims once they had been romantically involved.
He ‘played’ with them when they became concerned and questioned his HIV status and intentionally tormented them.
He even accused his victims of lying when they told police and jury he had said he was free of the virus before they had sex.
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
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, 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.