Bermuda: Man sentenced to 14 years for alleged HIV transmission under new changes to the Criminal Code

Sentencing

Man jailed 14 years for passing on HIV

May 6, 1995
Source: Royal Gazette

X, 31, of Cedar Heights Lane Warwick, pleaded guilty in Supreme Court to the charge of serious sexual assault which was committed between October 1, 1993 and July 25, 1994. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

And he is the first to fall under changes to the Criminal Code which make it an offence to have sex while knowing you are infected with HIV, without informing the other.

The Bill was unanimously passed in the House of Assembly in February, 1993. In a Police statement which was read out in court, Dowling’s 45-year-old victim, with whom he was involved for nearly a year, said he had destroyed her life.

“I want to tell X that what he did to me was wrong. He has not only hurt me, but my family also. My life has changed and people are treating me differently now because of this virus.

“He never told me that he was infected and he had so many chances to tell me.

I am a good person and he took advantage of me. He took away my choice to decide the rest of my life. I am not able to work, and I just want to ask him why he did this to me.” The woman added: “This man has taken my life and the court should hold him fully accountable for what he has done. I trusted him and cared for him and I really loved him and he destroyed my whole life.” She concluded by saying that in order for her to get any justice X “deserves to be dealt with to the fullest”.

Crown Counsel Mr. Peter DeJulio told the court that in November 1993, the victim met the defendant at a social event.

“Following their first sexual encounter, their relationship continued and the complainant moved into an apartment of her own in Somerset. In the early part of 1994, X moved in the apartment with her,” Mr. DeJulio said.

He added the two engaged in a variety of sexual activities, all considered high-risk for someone with AIDS. X did not use a condom.

“On July 18, 1994 the complainant was feeling ill and her doctor advised her to get a blood test. She did this and on July 25 1994, she received the result showing that she was infected with the HIV virus. It was shortly after this discovery that the complainant made a formal complaint to the Police alleging that she had been infected by the defendant, who had not told her that he was a carrier of the virus.” Mr. DeJulio also said that after inquires began on August 3 last year X was arrested.

He admitted he had engaged in frequent sexual intercourse with the complainant and he maintained that he generally used a condom during sex, but that twice they broke.

“X also admitted that he was fully aware, since his test in October, 1989 that he had been a carrier of the HIV virus, and at no time has he divulged that information to the complainant, who is now infected,” Mr. DeJulio added.

He also told the court that X’s guilty plea saved the defendant the anguish and embarrassment of having to testify at a trial.

“However, this type of offence is one of the most serious and the sentence should reflect that.

This is the first case of its kind in Bermuda and lawyers and citizens will be looking to it as guidance in the future.

“The sentence should also demonstrate to society that this type of offence is taken seriously.” X’s lawyer Mr. Michael Telemaque said the Crown failed to look at his client’s educational background.

“X went to Devon Lane and he was a slow learner.

“When he went to visit nurse epidemiologist Ms Rhonda Daniels for counselling with his wife, who has since died of AIDS, X was said to be expressionless when he found out that he was infected with the virus.

“Ms Daniels recognised some confusion on the part of X as to what was happening. If she knew he was a slow learner maybe we wouldn’t be here today.” Mr. Telemaque also said that up to now X has not felt sick which “puzzled him”.

“X is very sorry for what has happened and worries about the complainant and what she is going through and he knows that he has destroyed her life. The whole affair is very tragic and there are no winners or losers.

“There is no evidence that the defendant deliberately spread this disease, they were living together and she was his girlfriend. He had abstained from sex since 1989 until he met her.” Chief Justice the Hon. Mr. Justice Ward gave X only six years less than the maximum sentence for sexual assault.

“In 1993, the law dealing with sexual assault was changed to increase the prison sentence to the maximum of 20 years which expressed society’s concern about such cases,” Mr. Ward said.

He added, “I have a duty to protect the health of this society and I will take the guilty plea into consideration.”