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HIV man is found guilty of deliberately infecting lovers

The Independent 15 October 2003

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

A man who knowingly infected two women with HIV has become the first person in more than a century to be convicted of inflicting biological grievous bodily harm.

Mohammed Dica, 37, who has three children, persuaded two women to have unprotected sex without telling them he had HIV. He was a refugee from Somalia, but claimed to be a lawyer and to have served as a soldier in the Gulf War. The court heard that he was a practised Lothario who told the women a pack of lies. Doctors say the victims may have no more than 10 years to live.

Dica told the first, a university graduate who worked for the United Nations, that he had had a vasectomy and did not need to use protection, and promised the second, a woman from Surrey with two children, that he loved her and wanted her to have his children. When she left her husband to be with him, he disappeared.

Dica denied the offences, which took place between 1997 and 2000, and told detectives that both women had known of his condition.

Yesterday a jury of six men and six women at Inner London Crown Court took two hours to find him guilty after the prosecution claimed he had "coldly and callously" infected his two lovers with the virus.

Judge Nicholas Philpot deferred sentencing until next month but warned Dica he faced a lengthy period in prison. The offences carry a maximum of five years each.

Detectives believe there may be other women infected by Dica and asked any who had had a relationship with him to come forward.

The case is the first since Charles James Clarence was convicted in 1888 of causing grievous and actual bodily harm after infecting his wife Selina with gonorrhoea. He was cleared on appeal when the House of Lords ruled that passing a sexually transmitted disease during consensual sex did not constitute an assault.

The same argument was used by Dica's lawyers. They said that as both women had agreed to sex, no assault had been committed. But Judge Philpot decided the law had moved on since 1888 as a result of a succession of cases which had chipped away at the Clarence position.

In 1997, Anthony Burstow, 36, was convicted of inflicting psychiatric grievous bodily harm on a woman with stalking and telephone calls. On appeal, the Lords decided the Crown did not have to prove battery to secure a bodily harm conviction.

Yesterday's conviction which follows the line of a similar case in Scotland two years ago. In March 2001, Stephen Kelly, 33, was found guilty of "culpable and reckless conduct" for passing HIV to his girlfriend.

Dica's lawyers said they would appeal, and the case is likely to go to the Lords.

The National Aids Trust criticised the verdict. It said: "Treating cases like this as a criminal offence will not prevent such incidents. People should feel able to disclose their HIV status without fear of rejection or discrimination."

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