Edinburgh man accused of infecting lovers with HIV taunted victims, court hears

The trial of Daryll Rowe is taking place at Lews crown court. Picture: Creative Commons
The trial of Daryll Rowe is taking place at Lews crown court. Picture: Creative Commons

An alleged victim of a hairdresser accused of infecting his lovers with HIV claims he deliberately injured him during sex in order to transmit the disease, a court has heard.

Daryll Rowe, originally from Edinburgh, is accused of forcing the young complainant into rough sex after meeting on Grindr to make him vulnerable to infection.

Rowe, 26, is charged with four counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and six counts of attempted grievous bodily harm in relation to 10 men.

He demanded unprotected sex with his partners, claiming to be free of the virus, or tampered with the condom when they insisted he used one, Lewes Crown Court heard.

On Wednesday, the court heard how one of the complainants had only had one previous partner and considered Rowe to be his boyfriend.

In his taped police interview, the alleged victim said he had trusted Rowe when he said he was free of HIV and consented to sex without a condom.

The complainant told officers he believed he deliberately injured him internally during sex to have a better chance of transmitting the virus.

He said: “He seemed really relaxed about what he had done and I honestly felt that he had done it on purpose because it’s easier to contract something that way and that’s when I started to feel like something wasn’t right.”

A few weeks later when the complainant started to fall ill from with symptoms consistent with exposure to the virus, Rowe tried to prevent him leaving his flat and returning to his family.

He was suffering from aches, shivers, a sore throat and swollen glands and lost almost a stone in a week.

“He was nice to me - giving me baths, he was really into reflexology and he was massaging my hands and my feet,” said the complainant.

“Looking back at what was going on it’s almost like he was keeping me away from home - because I like being at home, I’m a bit of a mummy’s boy.”

When Rowe eventually allowed the victim to return home, he became angry and abusive when he forgot to text him that evening.

One text read: “You haven’t text me all day. I think we should think about ending this.”

A few days later he received a string of abusive text messages.

One said: “You’re a f***ing psychopath, you’re afraid of your own shadow. I can do much better than you. I’m way, way out of your league.”

Another message read: “No one will ever love you.”

The complainant said that during their brief relationship Rowe was jealous and controlling and texted him constantly.

He told police: “I have friends with mental health issues. I felt there was something up with him but nothing major. I didn’t want to be shallow and judgmental.”

Rowe would get angry when he did not text back immediately, the complainant said.

“It’s almost like he was doing it on purpose to make me want him. Making me feel a certain way and I was falling for it. A bit of a control freak,” he said.

He added: “I was so worried about saying things and him not liking it. I felt a bit trapped.”

He eventually blocked Rowe on all social media platforms and on his phone to stop the flow of abuse from him.

A few weeks later the complainant was diagnosed as HIV positive.

The court has previously heard that Rowe’s first alleged victim received a message which read: “Maybe you have the fever. I have HIV LOL. Oops!”

The defendant was living and working in the Brighton area at the time of the first eight alleged offences, before fleeing to the north east while he was under investigation, where he is accused of trying to infect two more men.

Rowe was diagnosed with HIV in April 2015 while he was still living in Edinburgh after a sexual health clinic contacted him to tell him a former partner was infected, the court has heard.

Doctors found he was “coping well” with the diagnosis but were worried when he refused antiretroviral drugs to slow development of the virus and make him less contagious.

The court has heard that the four men Rowe is accused of infecting with HIV had very similar strains to the defendant, making it highly likely he was the source of the virus.

More to follow.