Daryll Rowe
Daryll Rowe deliberately infected men with HIV Facebook/Daryll Rowe

A hairdresser is facing a lengthy jail sentence after deliberately infecting men he met on gay dating app Grindr with HIV in "revenge" for having caught the virus from an ex-boyfriend.

US-born Daryll Rowe, 26, infected as many men as he could before sending them mocking text messages.

He texted one of his victims: "Maybe you have the fever cos I came inside you and I have HIV, lol. Whoops!"

He told another: "I ripped the condom. Burn. I got you."

In total, he had tried to infect 10 men. At least four have contracted HIV so far, police said.

Rowe was found guilty of five counts of grievous bodily harm (GBH) and five counts of attempted GBH at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday (15 November).

The offences took place in Brighton and the north east of England between October 2015 and January 2016.

Police said it was the first time in the UK somebody had been prosecuted for transmitting HIV with intent.

During the six-week trail, Rowe denied the charges and claimed to believe he had been cured of the virus by trying alternative treatments, including drinking his own urine.

But the prosecution said Rowe had in fact embarked on a "cynical campaign" to spread his HIV to as many other men as possible.

The jury heard he hatched the revenge plot on the gay community after receiving news in April 2015 that he had contracted HIV from an ex-boyfriend.

After attending a sexual health clinic in his home city of Edinburgh, medical staff became concerned when he told them he didn't want to take anti-retroviral drugs that would make him less contagious. He missed subsequent appointments when he moved to Brighton in October 2015.

Rowe began making contact with other men in the seaside resort town on Grindr before meeting at their homes for sex. He would aggressively insist on sex without a condom, claiming he was free of any sexually transmitted diseases.

The court heard how he had unprotected sex with his first victim, before then flying into a rage when his date panicked and didn't want to continue.

Scared for his safety, he refused to meet with Rowe again – prompting the hairdresser to bombard him with abusive texts. In one he wrote: "Maybe you have the fever. I came inside you and I have HIV LOL. Oops!"

His victim fell ill weeks later and was diagnosed as HIV positive.

Rowe also met his second victim on Grindr. He tried to have sex without protection but was pushed off by the man.

Determined to infect his victim, he decided to secrely remove the top off a condom. Days later, Rowe taunted the man by texting: "I ripped the condom. Burn. I got you."

Aware safe sex was a deal breaker for many men on Grindr, he went on to carefully prepare torn condoms for future dates.

Rowe was caught after police were contacted by health clinic staff in Brighton who had noticed similarities in two of their patients' stories about contracting HIV.

He was arrested and bailed, but he absconded and continued his campaign by having sex with two further men before eventually being apprehended.

Caroline Carberry QC, prosecuting, told the court: "Daryll Rowe embarked on a cynical and deliberate campaign to infect other men with HIV, having high risk sexual intercourse knowing he was highly infectious.

"Unfortunately for many of the men he met his campaign was successful. He deceived those men into believing he was HIV negative, reassuring those he was intimate with."

Speaking after the verdict, Nigel Pilkington, deputy chief crown prosecutor in the South East, said there "may well be more men out there" who are victims. He said the CPS would consider putting Rowe on trial again if they come forward.

Rowe's sentencing was adjourned until 29 January for psychiatric reports to be prepared.

Detective Inspector Andy Wolstenholme, of Sussex Police, said: "This trial is the first time that a person has been charged and convicted of deliberately infecting others with HIV in the country.

"The verdict today is very welcome. It will bring some closure to the victims who have been very strong and supportive through the investigation. By bravely giving evidence in the trial, it sends a clear message that despite the complex and highly sensitive nature of such a case, the police and prosecutors will not shy away from investigating allegations of deliberate HIV transmission in order to keep people safe.

"Daryll Rowe was consistent in lying to his victims about having HIV, he was persistent and aggressive in wanting unprotected sex in order to infect people, and when he didn't get what he wanted, he deliberately damaged condoms to achieve his aim.

"The victims have demonstrated real strength of character in speaking out about this, and because of this strength and the hard work of the detectives, staff and partners working on the case, a dangerous man, who betrayed the trust of many men, will now be imprisoned."