By Aasma Day
A man who infected two women with HIV by having sexual relationships with them despite his diagnosis has been jailed.
Aaron Sutcliffe, 29, of Fleetwood, Lancashire, was described as “taking the coward’s way out” for remaining silent about his condition.
Sutcliffe was diagnosed with HIV in 2008 but didn’t disclose this to his two victims, who said they remain terrified they will pass the virus on to their children.
Sutcliffe was jailed at Preston Crown Court after being convicted of two counts of wounding without intent. He had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of inflicting grievous bodily harm.
The court heard how the first offence was committed between January 2009 and September 2010 and the second between January and May 2016.
The victims were two women both aged in their 20s at the time of the offences.
As well as being sentenced to six years and nine months in prison, Sutcliffe was given a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order meaning he must state to anyone who he is in a sexual relationship with of his HIV status. Failing to inform would put him in breach of the order.
One of his victims told Preston Crown Court that the defendant had “condemned” her to a “life sentence”.
Sentencing, Judge Philip Parry told Sutcliffe he had had a “moral and legal obligation” to bring his status to the attention of any potential sexual partner.
He said: “You wilfully and deliberately withheld your status to two women that you professed to care for. That was deceitful, calculated and manipulative.
“You took the coward’s way out, kept your silence and infected them. You had no right to do so.
“You bore an overwhelming responsibility for your own selfish actions which have left such devastation in your wake.”
Judge Parry imposed a sexual harm prevention order on Sutcliffe which – until further notice – prohibits him from engaging in lawful sex with another person unless he has told them he has HIV and they understand and acknowledge the disclosure.
Previously, Sutcliffe was subject to an order which required him to provide contact details of partners to Lancashire Police’s public protection unit and then wait for written approval before having intercourse wearing a condom.
The court heard Sutcliffe was not classed as a dangerous offender but poses a high risk of reoffending by not telling partners about his condition.
Sutcliffe was said to have had “ample opportunity” to reveal all to his first victim before she began hearing rumours that he had HIV.
Even when confronted, the court heard, he continued to feign ignorance as he agreed to taking a test and then tricked the woman into believing they received their diagnoses at the same time.
Sutcliffe’s second victim contracted the virus after he complained he was struggling to put a condom on. She told the court that Sutcliffe had robbed her of “precious early months of bonding” with her child as she took to wearing gloves to feed and change them. She added he had condemned her to a “life sentence”.
In mitigation, Sutcliffe was said to have a background of alcohol and drug abuse and had been referred to mental health services on numerous occasions but often disengaged.
He claims he was infected himself by a man who sexually abused him and the allegation is currently under police investigation, the court heard.
Det Con Emma Shuttleworth, of Lancashire Police, said: “Aaron Sutcliffe had numerous opportunities to tell both of his victims that he was HIV positive and he failed to do so.
“His intention may not have been to harm but he has been as reckless as it is possible to be and he has demonstrated a flagrant disregard for the health of these two women, whose lives and the lives of their families have been changed irrevocably through his actions.”
• If you need any help, information or support about HIV, visit the Terence Higgins Trust website at https://www.tht.org.uk/ or your local sexual health clinic.