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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
HIV man wins right to a retrial
Mohammed Dica
Mohammed Dica was convicted on 14 October
A man jailed for eight years for inflicting "biological" grievous bodily harm by infecting two lovers with HIV has won the right to a retrial.

The Court of Appeal in London quashed Mohammed Dica's convictions, but refused to release him on bail pending retrial in about six weeks.

Mr Dica, from Mitcham, south-west London, was convicted at Inner London Crown Court on 14 October.

He was found guilty under section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, sitting with Lord Justice Judge and Mr Justice Forbes, ruled on Wednesday that the judge at Dica's trial should not have withdrawn from the jury the issue of whether the women consented to intercourse, knowing Dica was HIV positive.

Judge Philpot had held that consent was irrelevant and provided no defence because, under legal precedent, the women had "no legal capacity to consent to such serious harm".

Mr Dica was the first person in 137 years to be convicted in England and Wales for sexually transmitting a disease.

Michelle Reid, of the HIV charity George House Trust, welcomed the ruling.

She said: "The threat of legal prosecution will mean fewer people being open about their HIV status; fewer people taking HIV tests so that they cannot 'knowingly' infect someone; and fewer people benefiting from support and life-saving health care

"Convictions will drive HIV underground, and therefore render it uncontrollable.

"We supported this appeal as a matter of principle because each person has responsibility for their own sexual health and well-being, and it is risky to rely on others to protect you.

Fear and recrimination have been the best friends of the spread of HIV over the last 20 odd years. The time to end this is now."

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