Intent to transmit HIV

Today the High Court unanimously allowed an appeal in Zaburoni v The Queen [2016] HCA 12.  The case concerned HIV transmission to a sexual partner. Quoting from the judgment summary:

The High Court held that where proof of intention to produce a particular result is made an element of liability for an offence, the prosecution is required to establish that the accused meant to produce that result by his or her conduct. The majority reasoned that knowledge or foresight of result, whether possible, probable or certain, is not a substitute for proof of specific intent.

The Court held that, apart from the evidence that the appellant engaged in frequent unprotected sexual intercourse with the complainant, there was no evidence to support the inference that the appellant had the intention to transmit HIV to her. It followed that the conviction must be quashed. The Court set aside the orders of the Court of Appeal and substituted for the verdict of the jury a verdict of guilty of unlawfully doing grievous bodily harm to the complainant, to which the appellant had pleaded guilty. The proceedings were remitted to the District Court of Queensland for sentence.

It may be that the Queensland parliament may choose to amend the relevant section, to more clearly deal with recklessness.

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