An Edinburgh hairdresser who deliberately tried to infect men with HIV has begged for forgiveness for his “naive and reckless” behaviour.
Daryll Rowe became the first man in the country to be found guilty of intentionally setting out to spread the virus after meeting the men on gay dating app Grindr.
After being diagnosed in April 2015 in Edinburgh, Rowe met men on the gay dating app and had sex with eight of them in Brighton, East Sussex, between October that year and February 2016, before fleeing to the north-east of England where he went on the run, targeting two more victims.
The 27-year-old would enter relationships and have unprotected sex or tamper with condoms.
Afterwards he would become aggressive and taunt them over text, telling one: “I have HIV. Lol. Whoops!”
Branded “grotesque” and a “sociopath” by his victims, Rowe was convicted in November 2017 at Brighton Crown Court of ten charges – five of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and five of attempting to do so.
Rowe repeatedly lied to authorities and would use aliases with his victims.
Judge Christine Henson QC called his crimes a “determined, hateful campaign of sly violence” and jailed him for at least 12 years.
At a later hearing in Edinburgh he admitted four more charges of culpable and reckless conduct. One of the four men contracted HIV. In a BBC TV documentary featuring several of his victims, he speaks on the phone from prison to an interviewer.
He says: “I would like to say to the men in Scotland and in England that I am really sorry for my behaviour, for being so naive and so reckless.
“The main thing is that I hope that they can forgive me one day and they can try and live a happy life and put this behind them.”
Rowe told jurors he believed he had been cured of the virus by the time he moved to Brighton, having adopted the practice of drinking his own urine as a treatment, supplemented with natural remedies, including oregano, coconut and olive leaf oils.
He said: “I was building a really unhealthy relationship with sex which I need to work on.
“It was when I got the diagnosis, because I was in so much denial about it, that I had in my mind I was going to cure myself with this urine therapy, that I almost used that as an excuse in my head for continuing have unprotected sex.
“I thought in my mind that this must really be blocking it.
“I completely hold up hands for doing that, to not using a condom even when I was asked to.
“In a high emotional state I definitely used it as a weapon to get a reaction from them which was really immature.”
The Man Who Used HIV As A Weapon is available on BBC iPlayer from Wednesday.