Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Alarm over reckless HIV sex case

Mark Devereaux
HIV groups are alarmed by Devereaux's prosecution

HIV groups in Scotland have demanded the "highest standards of proof" before a prosecution can be brought for reckless transmission of the virus.

Their call comes after Mark Devereaux was convicted of having unprotected sex with four different women without telling them about the risks involved.

Three of the women did not contract the virus from the 41-year-old.

HIV Scotland said it would be alarming if more prosecutions were brought in cases where no harm had been caused.

The offences happened at various addresses in the north east of Scotland.

Mr Devereaux, who now lives in Dundee, was diagnosed with HIV in 1994.

We are particularly worried about the fact that prosecutions were brought in this case in respect of three sexual partners of Mr Devereaux who had not contracted HIV
Roy Kilpatrick
HIV Scotland

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, he admitted four charges of culpable and reckless conduct during the period from January 2003 to December 2008.

Three of his victims were not infected.

One woman, with whom he had a six-year relationship, was found to be HIV positive when she was three months pregnant.

Devereaux admitted to police that he had not told any of his partners about his HIV, claiming he was "in denial".

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust (NAT), said: "It is totally unjust to single out people with an HIV diagnosis for punishment for unprotected sex - we all need to be wiser and safer, looking after ourselves and those we have sex with.

"Most HIV transmissions are from people who have never had an HIV test.

"We recommend that the Scottish Executive change the law so that people with HIV cannot be charged with culpable and reckless conduct if no transmission took place."

'Future prosecutions'

Roy Kilpatrick, chief executive of HIV Scotland, said: "We are particularly worried about the fact that prosecutions were brought in this case in respect of three sexual partners of Mr Devereaux who had not contracted HIV.

"We recognise that the primary motivation for bringing this prosecution must have been the actual transmission of HIV and that the prosecution would have felt it necessary to put the full context before the court.

"However, it would be alarming if the charges brought in this case open the door for future prosecutions in cases where no harm has been caused."

He said that bringing prosecutions where no harm had been caused would stigmatise people living with HIV.

Mr Kilpatrick called for a clear statement of Scottish prosecution policy.

Sentence on Devereaux was deferred for reports.



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Man guilty of 'reckless' HIV sex
19 Jan 10 |  North East/N Isles

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