Supreme Court to hear conviction appeal by man who infected two women with HIV

The now 33-year-old was jailed for 10 years for intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the women

A man convicted of causing serious harm to two former partners by infecting them with HIV has been granted an appeal to the Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the court said the man’s appeal application raised legal points of general public importance concerning the nature and quality of evidence required to prove a charge of this nature to the criminal standard.

The now 33-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identities of the women, was jailed for 10 years in 2018.

The African national, who lived in Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the women on dates between November 2009 and June 2010.

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One of the women was his wife, who said in a victim impact statement that her life had “dramatically changed” since the man took away her personality, health and positivity.

The other woman she had isolated herself from everyone, including her family, and the damage done to her prevented her from having a healthy relationship.

The man’s circuit court trial was told the man commenced a relationship with both women in 2009 and was “reluctant” to use contraception and had unprotected sex. A later analysis of the man’s medical records revealed he was diagnosed with HIV in 2008 and had received treatment, advice and medication.

He was advised not to have unprotected sex and was prescribed anti-retroviral medication, which should have eliminated his symptoms and rendered him non-infectious.

However, a 2010 screening showed he had a positive viral load, suggesting he was not taking his medication.

The Court of Appeal last year dismissed the man’s conviction appeal on all grounds.

In seeking a Supreme Court appeal, the man complained about the quality of the prosecution’s evidence for showing he was the source of the infection. He also pointed to the alleged significance of the failure to carry out any form of phylogenetic analysis, which he said could have excluded him as the infection source.

He also referenced the restrictions imposed on his use of expert evidence in his defence. He alleged the jury was left to speculate as to the cause of the women’s HIV conditions.

In granting leave to appeal, the Supreme Court judging panel said there were interests of justice issues arising from aspects of the treatment of the evidence in the case. There were also some questions to consider regarding an expert’s ability to give evidence of certain personal experience and when it is appropriate to give a warning to the jury in respect of prosecution witnesses.

A date for the appeal has not yet been set.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is High Court Reporter with The Irish Times