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'Reckless' photographer jailed for three years after infecting girlfriend with HIV
Leslie Pringle, 48, did not use protection and allowed lover to become infected
Victim told previous hearing: 'The deceit just beggars belief – I hope one day I can move on from it'Former partners of Pringle urged to get tested if they fear they are at risk
17:16 GMT, 26 November 2012
'Nothing short of appalling': Leslie Pringle, from North Shields, has been jailed for three and a half years
A photographer who infected a lover with HIV by failing to tell her he had the disease has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Leslie Pringle did not inform the woman, referred to only as X in court, he had the disease before they started a sexual relationship.
The 48-year-old had denied causing X grievous bodily harm but was found guilty by a jury after a trial.
Prosecutors said Pringle, who publicly apologised to his victim through his barrister, had a 'cavalier' attitude to sex and disregard for the safety of others.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday Judge Paul Sloan QC branded Pringle 'utterly irresponsible and selfish.'
The judge told him: 'At no time during the relationship did you inform X of your HIV positive status.
'Worse than that, you deliberately concealed that positive status from her.
'When you did take medication you hid the medication, and the fact you were taking it, from her and you also kept your visits to the clinic from her.
'She trusted you implicitly, it never crossed her mind that you were HIV positive.
'She believed it was a safe relationship, given your account to her that previous relationships had been long standing.
'Needless to say, the revelation she was HIV positive had a devastating effect upon her, leading to severe and continuing emotional and physical problems in addition to the serious psychological harm you caused her.
'Having regard to the victim personal statement, clearly X’s life has been changed forever.
'She speaks of depression, a sense of worthlessness.
'She speaks of her nightmares, her fragile state. She speaks of trust remaining a huge issue for her. You were advised in terms to tell all partners of your status and I am satisfied you deliberately chose not to, thereby denying X choice.
'You chose, quite deliberately, to ignore repeated warnings and advice you were given by the clinic.'
The court heard during the trial Pringle had been repeatedly advised on how to avoid passing on the disease – as well as the importance of condoms – after he was diagnosed.
He had also been warned of his legal and moral obligation to inform sexual partners of his illness.
But Pringle, of Rennington Avenue, North Shields, had sex with the woman without using protection and had not been regularly taking his medication or attending clinic appointments to try and control his illness, as he had been advised.
Tramatic: 'X' told jurors she collapsed when she tested positive for the disease (file picture)
Following the conviction in October, the victim known as X said: 'The selfish behaviour of Les Pringle is nothing short of appalling.
'Through the position he now finds himself in, I hope he uses this time to reflect on the damage he has done through his treatment of others, and learn something of compassion.'
Pringle did not give evidence during the trial but told detectives in interview he believed it was still possible for him to have safe sex even without the use of a condom.
X told jurors during the trial, while giving evidence from behind a screen to protect her privacy, she confronted Pringle at his studio after was told she had the disease and suspected he had given her it.
She told the court: 'It was rage, it is the only word I can use to describe it.
'I am a very calm, private person really and I don’t think I have ever felt that way before.
'The deceit just beggars belief. It was an unpleasant experience feeling like that. I hope one day I can move on from it'.
The woman told jurors Pringle had told her during the confrontation he 'wasn’t dealing with it' after getting his own diagnosis.
She added: 'I said quite a few unpleasant things in the heat of the moment.
'I tried to slap him across the face. It didn’t work – he caught my wrist and told me to calm down.'
Lies: 'X' said she would have continued her relationship with Pringle if he had not kept the secret from her
X told jurors she would have used condoms if she had known Pringle was HIV positive but would not have ended their relationship for that reason alone.
She said: 'People with HIV are allowed to have relationships, are allowed to lead a healthy life.
'The irony of it is he has said he didn’t tell me because he was frightened he would lose me.
'He lost me because he didn’t tell me.
'It would have made no difference to how I felt about him if he had told me, I would have thought he was a very, very brave man and I would have supported him.'
The woman told jurors she 'collapsed' after being told she had tested positive for the disease during a health check, after her relationship with Pringle had ended.
She told jurors she 'regrettably' did not use condoms while having sex with Pringle and they were never suggested or discussed.
She said: 'It was because I was in love with him, because I thought it was a safe relationship, I felt safe in it.
'I think it was serious from the first time that we went out on the very first date.
'It was, on reflection, difficult to describe because it was a very stupid thing to do.
'I think I was just so happy he had asked me to go out with him and spend some time with him it just never crossed my mind.'
The woman told jurors she never saw Pringle taking medication other than Paracetomol for headaches and minor ailments and believed his health to be excellent.
Prosecutor Katherine Dunn told the court: 'The crown’s case is he was clearly reckless in his actions in not telling her he was infected, not attending the clinic and not taking his medication
'He failed to protect X by engaging in sexual intercourse without protection.
'It shows his cavalier approach to sex and disregard for the safety of others and complete lack of concern as to whether he could infect another person.'
Pringle told police very few people were aware of his HIV status and said he tried to kill himself twice after the confrontation with X.
Speaking after the case, X added in a statement released by police: '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.
'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.'
Robert Ellison, defending, said Pringle was in a state of 'denial' after his diagnosis and had to cope with the death of both his parents within a short time of each other as well as the collapse of his business.
Mr Ellison said: 'When the offence was committed, the information available suggests, this man was not in his right mind and that may have effected his appreciation of the level of risk he posed to other people.
'The doctor’s report describes his response to diagnosis as a state of denial.
'It led to certain behaviour such that he didn’t treat himself, he pretended it hadn’t happened.
'He, according to the doctor, was living in something close to a fantasy world where it hadn’t happened at all.'
Mr Ellison said Pringle is now a 'different man' who is acting responsibly in relation to his illness.
He added: 'He expresses very deep sorrow and remorse about the victim in this case.'