Photographer guilty of infecting woman with HIV

Les Pringle.
Les Pringle.

A PHOTOGRAPHER has been told to expect a substantial jail term after being found guilty of infecting a former partner with the HIV virus.

Les Pringle, of Rennington Avenue, North Shields, denied the charge of grievous bodily harm, but a jury at Newcastle Crown Court found him guilty after less than two hours of deliberation on Friday afternoon.

His victim was in a sexual relationship with him but he never told her he carried the virus.

It was also heard that 48-year-old Pringle had not taken appropriate precautions to prevent the virus being transferred.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that as someone who is HIV positive, Pringle had a legal and moral obligation to not only inform sexual partners that he carried the virus, but also to avoid unprotected sex.

Pringle denied his actions were reckless, and the court heard that he had told a mutual friend that he thought he would be with the woman for the rest of his life, and so it would be OK if she also carried the virus.

During the trial, the victim described her relationship with Pringle as a loving one and said that she would have thought he was a brave man if he had have told her about his condition.

But it was not until after they separated the woman went to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases before embarking on another relationship and was given the news she had the virus.

After the verdict, Pringle was remanded in custody and told by Judge Paul Sloan that a custodial sentence was inevitable.

A pre-sentence report will now be drawn up before he sentenced at the end of November.

After the verdict, his victim released a statement urging anyone who had been in a sexual relationship with Pringle to get tested.

She said: “The actions of Les Pringle towards myself have taken away so many choices I should have been entitled to, therefore I ask that I am allowed to continue to lead a private and dignified life as is my human right.

“I would like to take this opportunity to urge anyone who has had a relationship with Les Pringle to contact their Sexual Health Services and request HIV testing.

“Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent irretrievable breakdown of good health, and ultimately saves lives.

“The care and support I received has helped me enormously in re-building my life.

“Should any persons feel it necessary to talk to the police, I want to state with complete confidence that without prejudice or judgement, the respect and kindness I have received has shown no bounds.

“The selfish behaviour of Les Pringle is nothing short of appalling. Through the position he now finds himself in, I hope Les Pringle uses this time to reflect on the damage he has done through his treatment of others, and learn something of compassion.

“There is no shame in having an HIV test, or indeed being HIV positive.

“Look after yourself and others, going for a test may well save your life.”

Following the conviction, Chief Superintendent Winton Keenan, of Northumbria Police, said: “I welcome today’s decision by the court and want to pay tribute to the victim in this case who showed tremendous bravery and courage, being prepared to come to court to give evidence.

“She will have to live with the consequences of Pringle’s actions for the rest of her life.

“He breached her trust and showed absolutely no regard for her personal safety by withholding the information that he was HIV positive.

“Pringle knew he was HIV positive but recklessly ignored the health advice he had been given by having unprotected sexual relations with the victim.

“This was a challenging and difficult investigation due to the complexity of bringing such a case to court and the rules of confidentiality that rightly govern health issues.

“Given that Pringle may have had other sexual relationships since he was infected we have a public duty to publicise this case to ensure any other potential victims are made aware and can seek advice.

“Anyone with concerns that they may be at risk should seek confidential advice from their local sexual health service provider.

“Pringle’s actions were morally reprehensible and he has shown no remorse for his actions. His victim will have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of her life.”