Man with HIV ‘did not intentionally have unprotected sex’

Prosecution claims accused knew he had virus when he infected two women

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury of nine women and three men. Photograph:  Collins Courts.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury of nine women and three men. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A man on trial accused of infecting two women with HIV told gardaí that he didn’t intentionally have unprotected sex but it happened when they were drunk.

It is the State’s case that the man was aware of his diagnosis when he infected the women and this amounted to serious harm.

The man (28) cannot be named to protect the identities of the complainants in the case.

He has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to two former partners on dates between November 2009 and June 2010.

On day six of the trial, Garda Sergeant Ian Brunton told Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that he arrested the defendant in December 2015 for interview on foot of a complaint.

The man told gardaí­that he came to Europe from Africa around 2007 and lived in the UK for a time. He said he was in a relationship with a woman in the UK and thinks he may have lost his virginity to her.

This woman became pregnant and the man said she told him the child was his. He said he left for Ireland in 2008 and did not tell this woman he was leaving.

He sought asylum in Ireland and, as part of this application, he was tested for HIV and was informed in 2008 that he had tested positive for the virus.

The defendant said he then attended St James Hospital for check ups every three months. Asked if he was told about the risk of spreading the virus and safe sex practice he replied “my brain was all over the place”.

‘I loved her’

He said he began living with one woman in late 2009 and they had a child together a year later. He said they married in October 2010, not because of the pregnancy but “because I loved her”.

Asked if he had ever told this woman that he was HIV positive, he replied “I don’t remember but I think I did. I honestly don’t remember”.

He said he did not remember if he told her before she became pregnant.

Dr John Lambert, a specialist in infectious diseases, diagnosed him with HIV in May 2010. Dr Lambert has said that the accused told him he had been screened in Africa and came back negative.

The accused said he was never tested in his home country and said he had never said this to the doctor.

Dr Lambert had also testified that that after the May 2010 diagnosis he found out that the man had previously been tested for HIV.

Asked if he had denied his knowledge of his HIV status to Dr Lambert, the accused told gardaí: “I don’t remember”.

He said “I remember nothing” when it was put to him that Dr Lambert said he had a clear understanding of the disease, the risk factor and safe sex guidelines.

Asked why he didn’t tell his then wife about his HIV status before starting sexual relationships with her, the accused replied: “I don’t remember. I think I did. I’m sorry for the pain and everything we are going through”.

He said he began having sex with the second complainant in December 2009 and told gardaí he couldn’t remember if he had told her he had HIV before this.

He said that when she was diagnosed HIV positive in June 2015 he “felt bad about it”.

Asked if he realised he had passed the virus on to her, he replied: “I thought so”.

He said they had unprotected sex up the three times but he denied constantly trying to get her pregnant. He said he regretted not disclosing his HIV status to her.

Asked why he continued to have unprotected sex with the two women in 2010 he told gardaí: “I didn’t really do it intentionally but when we were drunk it ended up happening”.

Another garda testified that gardaí began investigating the case after somebody wrote into the Garda Immigration Bureau in 2014.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury of nine women and three men.