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Scottish HIV group, Phace West, Charlie McMillan
"You need to be aware the person you are sleeping with may br HIV positive"
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Isabel Fraser reports
"It is a sentence that has made legal history"
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Friday, 16 March, 2001, 19:04 GMT
HIV case man jailed for five years
Stephen Kelly
Stephen Kelly (centre) had denied the charge
A man found guilty of knowingly infecting a former girlfriend with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been sentenced to five years in jail.

Stephen Kelly, 33, was found guilty by majority verdict last month of reckless conduct after a landmark trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Throughout the nine-day trial, Kelly denied that he had acted with total disregard for the health and well-being of his former partner Anne Craig, 34, during their relationship in 1994.

Anne Craig
Anne Craig said Kelly did not reveal his condition
Kelly argued that he had been honest about his heroin use and HIV infection during their relationship.

But the jury rejected his version of events and their majority verdict was the first time anyone had been found guilty of deliberately infecting another person with the virus in Scotland.

Sentencing Kelly, the judge Lord Mackay said the jail term should reflect the "gravity of the charge" and "mark the severe consequences" of what Kelly did to Miss Craig.

He said: "She has suffered several years of serious illness and her life expectancy has been seriously reduced."

The judge said it was for the prison authorities and Scottish ministers to decide whether a deterioration in Kelly's medical condition warranted early release from prison.

Kelly showed no emotion as he was led away to begin his sentence.

'Fragile state'

On his appearance for sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh, his defence counsel Petra Collins said Kelly believed Miss Craig knew he had HIV prior to them having a sexual relationship.

She said: "He believed that Anne Craig knew of his condition prior to having sexual relations with him. That is still his position today."

When asked by Lord Mackay what evidence Kelly had of that, Ms Collins said: "Everyone in the area knew and he understood that his aunt told Anne Craig of his condition."

Ms Collins told the court that the relationship which Kelly had with Miss Craig was not a fling and Kelly had not "callously" taken advantage of his girlfriend.

High court sign
The accused faced a nine-day trial in Glasgow
She said Kelly was in a "fragile state psychologically" when the pair had met as he was grieving for his former girlfriend - whom he thought of as his wife and who had died.

Kelly was told he was HIV positive in July 1993 within hours of returning from his girlfriend's funeral, which he attended on day release from prison.

Ms Collins said Kelly did not take medication for his condition for many years because it would have been a reminder that he was ill.

"He pushed the fact of his illness to the back of his mind and did not face up to it," she said.

Kelly and Miss Craig, from Manchester, had met at a party in Glasgow in January 1994 and had sex for the first time within hours of what was to become a long-term relationship.

The heard that Kelly, who had been in Glenochil prison for offences of assault and attempted robbery, never told her he had tested positive for the virus while in jail.

Former heroin user Kelly had taken part in a blood-screening programme after an outbreak of hepatitis in the jail caused prison staff to suspect that inmates were spreading HIV through shared needles.

He eventually revealed that he had the virus when Miss Craig went for a blood test in March 1994.

Dirty needles

Kelly at first alleged that he suspected he had caught it from a former girlfriend.

However, when Miss Craig's test showed she was HIV positive, he told her he had caught it in Glenochil from using dirty needles.

The court heard the two had discussed contraception before having sex for the first time, but Miss Craig said Kelly never disclosed his condition.

After learning that she had the HIV virus Miss Craig had stayed with Kelly for several months, but became addicted to heroin and developed severe arthritis as a result of the infection.

Aids campaigners expressed concern about the case and warned that Kelly's prosecution could undo the work that has been done to lift the stigma surrounding the disease.

Speaking on Newsnight Scotland on Thursday, HIV sufferer Mark Ward warned it could deter people from taking the HIV test and demonise fellow sufferers.

"I think it will set back a lot of the work that has been done over the last 15 years to create a space where people can be open and honest about their HIV status without fear of victimisation or retaliation, isolation or marginalisation."

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See also:

16 Mar 01 | Scotland
HIV victim says justice done
22 Feb 01 | Scotland
'No crime' claim in HIV trial
21 Feb 01 | Scotland
Court hears HIV 'admission'
20 Feb 01 | Scotland
Woman 'did not condemn' HIV man
16 Feb 01 | Scotland
Woman denies knowing man had HIV
15 Feb 01 | Scotland
Boyfriend revealed he had HIV
14 Feb 01 | Scotland
HIV man 'given safe sex warning'
13 Feb 01 | Scotland
HIV 'infection' trial begins
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