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HIV man jailed for biting festival boss

Mid Wales | News | Published:

A man with HIV who bit a music festival organiser is this week beginning an 18-month prison sentence.

Stefan Pickles, 50, said he was scared to even hug his wife and children after the attack by Bradford Steer at the Friends Remembered music festival near Hay-on-Wye.

Prosecutor John Lloyd said Mr Pickles was repairing a generator by the side of the stage when he heard a commotion and saw Steer, 49, of Welshpool, acting in a "drunk" manner.

Mr Lloyd told Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court: "He climbed on to the stage and grappled with a 73-year-old saxophonist before being hauled off stage and taken to his car as Mr Pickles tried to reason with him."

Steer pulled Mr Pickles to the floor, tearing his T-shirt and sinking his teeth into his back, the court heard. "The bite broke the skin and the wound started to weep," said Mr Lloyd.'

Steer, a father-of-two, was arrested as he tried to drive away from the festival.

Mr Pickles was left with a three-inch bleeding bite mark on his back and had to have a hepatitis inoculation, tetanus jab and a 10-day course of medication – leaving him nauseated, suffering stomach cramps, tiredness and diarrhoea.

He was also left fearing he had contracted the incurable illness, which can lead to AIDS. In a victim impact statement he said: "There are regular worries about contracting and passing on HIV to my wife or children and I have recurring dreams of not being able to hug my wife or children for fear of infecting them."

An expert said it was extremely unlikely HIV would be passed on through a bite.

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Steer admitted one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was jailed for 18 months.

Lisa McCormick, for Steer, said he had expressed remorse.

Following the case, Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, said: 'We would like to reassure readers that it is impossible to transmit HIV through hugging, touching or normal everyday contact.

"HIV is passed on through unprotected sex, sharing injecting equipment and during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

"Mr Steer has been on HIV treatment since 2013 meaning it is extremely likely he has an undetectable viral load, without enough of the virus in his system to pass on HIV.

"HIV is a very manageable and long-term condition."

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