Aussie man jailed 18 years for trying to spread HIV

A 50-year-old HIV positive Melbourne man was sentenced on Friday to 18 years and nine months in jail, with a minimum of 13 years and nine months. He has already served two years and nine months.

Michael Neal, was found guilty by a jury in July last year on 15 charges, including two of rape and trying to infect eight people with HIV between 200 and 2006. He was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2000.

According to media reports, he was diagnosed in 2000 and had unprotected sex without telling his partners he had HIV and arranged "conversion parties" to infect people so that he would have a greater pool of sexual partners available to him, the Victorian County Court heard.

Australia’s The Age newspaper reported that Neal who met his victims mainly at gay venues, on gay websites or at gay beats, wore a genital piercing to make it easier for him to infect people. The father of three - and grandfather of four - further told a psychiatrist he had a dark side and enjoyed infecting people.

Neal's offending behaviour continued up until his arrest despite the Victorian Department of Health serving him with three letters and four orders under the Health Act between November 2001 and April 2006 to practice safe sex and tell partners of his status.

His case shone a spotlight on the Victorian Government's approach to HIV related criminal cases and ultimately led to the sacking of Victoria's chief health officer Dr Robert Hall.
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