Australian Magistrate Says Maximum Penalty for Spreading HIV/AIDS Inadequate

by Medindia Content Team on  December 4, 2007 at 11:42 AM Medico Legal News   - G J E 4
Australian Magistrate Says Maximum Penalty for Spreading HIV/AIDS Inadequate
Australian courts are beginning to take a sterner view of those who are found guilty of spreading HIV/AIDS.

Magistrate Greg Connellan in the state of Victoria questioned Monday the maximum five-year jail term for endangering others through reckless conduct.

He was reacting after Lam Kuoth, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of the charge for not disclosing his HIV status to a woman before having unprotected sex with her in April.

"Recklessly endangering another to the risk of HIV through sexual intercourse is an altogether much more serious matter than the maximum penalty applicable here would seem to indicate," he said.

"That is a matter for parliament, not a matter for me, but one of the roles of the maximum statutory penalty is to provide some guidance as to where on the scale of offences a particular type of offending falls."

"The anguish caused to the complainant over a significant period of time is an important indication of the seriousness of these matters," he said.

"The nature of the offending goes to the heart of significant public health prevention issues."

Connellan said Kuoth had been repeatedly told to practise safe sex before he allegedly slept with a woman five times on April 21 and 22 without disclosing his HIV status or wearing a condom.

Kuoth, a Sudanese migrant who arrived in Australia last year, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday to two counts of reckless conduct, infecting others with HIV.

A prosecution summary tendered to the court last week revealed Victorian health authorities were warned of Kuoth's reckless behaviour at least three times before he had sex with his victim.

The final warning came from a psychologist Kuoth was referred to by the Department of Human Services, who reported he was a "high risk of infecting others with HIV" 11 days before he had unprotected sex with the woman.

After issuing Kuoth with an order not to engage in unprotected sex on April 4, the Chief Health Officer used his power under the Health Act to detain Kuoth on April 27 at Thomas Embling Hospital where he remained in isolation for a month.

He was taken into police custody soon after and released on bail in June after a Geelong magistrate said he believed Kuoth had changed "considerably."

Kuoth will appear in the County Court for a plea hearing on February.

Source: Medindia

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