A 41-year-old man in Singapore who is HIV-positive bit a Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officer during a raid, has had his jail term reduced to 14 months after his appeal.
His original jail term was 20 months.
The National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) said in their reports that the man’s bite carried no risk of transmission of HIV to the officer because his viral load was suppressed.
The report stated that HIV transmission by human bite is negligible and for the virus to be transmitted, the biter should have an uncontrolled viral load and that his saliva should be bloody.
They added that on top of that, the victim should also have a deep wound from the bite.
High Court Justice Hoo Sheau Peng said in court yesterday (10 Harch) that in light of the new medical evidence being presented, the lower court was wrong to determine that the man’s HIV status meant that his bite caused the CNB officer a very significant degree of harm.
Justice Hoo added that the man know that he was HIV positive but didn’t know his viral load or if he had been bleeding in his mouth at the time of the assault on the CNB officer and that the sentence should reflect the potential harm that arises from his behaviour.
Explaining her decision, the judge said that apart from the need to protect law enforcement officers, the sentence would have to send a message of deterrence to those who have infectious diseases.
The HIV-positive man had faced three charges of causing hurt to public servants.
On 3 April 2020 during a raid, CNB officers arrived at the man’s condominium and knocked on his door, but he refused to let them in.
The officers then forced their way in and the man resisted arrested, slammed the door against one of the officers, pulled another officer’s hair and slammed her onto the floor, and bit a third officer.
He contested the three assault charges and said that he didn’t hear the officers identify themselves or show him their identification passes.
Justice Hoo said that an “ordinary person” in the man’s shoes would know that the people outside his door would know that they were law enforcement officers.
However, he still ended up being convicted of all three charges in 2022 and was sentenced to 15 months plus 2 months plus 3 months imprisonment for biting an officer, slamming the door against another officer and pulling the hair of a third officer, respectively.
The man appealed against his sentence and his lawyers then filed a motion to submit a report from his NCID doctor relating to the risk of transmission of HIV from his bite.