HIV-Positive British Man Found Guilty of ‘Grievous Bodily Harm’ for Allegedly Transmitting HIV to Two Women
An Inner London Crown Court jury on Tuesday unanimously found Mohammed Dica, a 37-year-old, HIV-positive British man, guilty of two counts of "grievous bodily harm" for knowingly infecting two women with HIV, BBC News reports (BBC News, 10/14). Dica's conviction is the first successful prosecution for sexually transmitting HIV in England and Wales and the first in 137 years for infecting someone with a sexually transmitted disease, London's Guardian reports (Guardian, 10/14). The women's lawyers argued that Dica "coldly and callously" infected them with HIV, saying that he told one woman he did not need to use a condom because he had had a vasectomy and told the other that he loved her and wanted her to have his children (Xinhua News Agency, 10/14). Dica denied the charges and told detectives that both women knew his HIV-positive status before having sex with him (Laurence, Independent, 10/15). Judge Nicholas Philpot denied a request for bail and adjourned sentencing for two weeks but said, "If I had to sentence him today, there is no doubt he would be going to prison for a long time." Dica faces a maximum of five years in prison for each count (Chrisafis, Guardian, 10/15). Dica plans to appeal the case, which will likely go to the House of Lords, the Guardian reports. The verdict brings England's bodily harm law more in line with that of Scotland, where in 2001 Stephen Kelly was found guilty of "reckless conduct" for transmitting HIV to his wife (Guardian, 10/14).
"This is a landmark case, being the first successful prosecution in England and Wales for inflicting grievous bodily harm by infecting ... two victims with a serious sexually transmittable disease, namely HIV, in over a century," Metropolitan Police Detective Sergeant Jo Goodall, said, adding, "I admire the courage of the two females in coming forward with this allegation" (BBC News, 10/14). Police said they believe Dica, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1995, may have infected other women as well (Agence France-Presse, 10/14). Police have urged Dica's past sexual partners to come forward (Chapman, Daily Express, 10/15). "If my ordeal helps the law to be changed to make it easier for men like him to be prosecuted for offenses like this, if it helps educate people and saves even one life, it will have been worth fighting for," one of the women Dica allegedly infected said (Guardian, 10/15). However, the AIDS organization George House Trust said in a statement that the case sets a "dangerous and frightening precedent for all people living with HIV." According to the statement, "Every adult has a responsibility for their own consenting sexual behavior and for protecting themselves. Criminalizing the transmission of HIV simply puts all the responsibility on people living with the virus." Michelle Reid, chief executive of GHT, said, "This is a dangerous step backwards to the climate of blame and ignorance of the 1980s. It will mean fewer people being open about their HIV status; fewer people taking HIV tests because unless you're status is known you cannot 'knowingly' infect someone and fewer people benefiting from support and health care" (BBC News, 10/14).