A traffic officer who has been fighting for two years to overturn a conviction for giving a woman genital herpes, had no idea he could give her the infection, he told appeal judges.
David Christopher Edward Golding, 30, of Greenway, Braunston, Northamptonshire, was jailed for 14 months in August 2011 after he pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to a woman.
But he was bailed by a top judge only a few weeks later after his lawyers launched a legal bid to clear his name, which finally reached a full hearing at the Court of Appeal in London yesterday.
Giving evidence, Golding told three senior judges that he did not know enough about the sexually transmitted infection to realise that he could pass it on.
He told Lord Justice Treacy, Mr Justice Bean and Judge Peter Lakin: “I didn’t know at the time how the herpes virus worked, I was ill-informed. I didn’t have all the information that we do now.”
The court heard Golding had had a flare up of herpes in 2008 and visited a sexual health clinic.
However, he said the only advice he was given was that he should avoid having sex when having an outbreak.
He had not had another outbreak by the time he had sex with the woman.
He said: “I did notice a lump down there. I went to check it out, but it came back as all-clear.”
He ended up in court after the woman complained that he had infected her.
Golding, who has attended numerous preliminary Court of Appeal hearings with his family, pleaded guilty to “recklessly” infecting the woman.
His jailing in 2011 outraged some health groups, who said the 14-month prison sentence would only add to the stigma attached to carriers of the “trivial” condition.
In a preliminary appeal hearing last year, one of the UK’s top sexual health clinicians, Prof George Kinghorn, disagreed with the description of herpes as a “devastating” condition.
For the prosecution, Iain Wicks said experts agreed that carriers would be warned that they could infect people while suffering herpes symptoms.
He said: “One view that may be taken is that perhaps this is an appellant who was in effect shutting his eyes to the obvious risk and going on regardless.”
Recognising the importance of the appeal, with Golding under threat of being returned to prison to finish his sentence, the judges reserved their judgment on the case until a later date.