An HIV-positive man accused of trying to infect at least five others was denied bail at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday.
Magistrate Lisa Hannan said Michael John Neal, 48, was an unacceptable risk of committing offences while on bail and was a danger to the public.
Neal is facing more than 35 charges, including attempting to infect others with HIV, rape and possession of child pornography. One former sex partner has tested positive to HIV, and another is waiting for test results.
When asked by the magistrate if there could be others, Detective Acting Sergeant Eric Harbis said police haven’t even scratched the surface.
Neal has been subject to four Department of Human Services (DHS) orders restricting his sexual activities since July 2004, but police alleged he continued to have unprotected sex, visiting beats, dance parties and sex on premises venues.
Files seized under warrant from the DHS indicated that Neal appealed the orders, on one occasion briefly gaining less strict conditions because he had an undetectable viral load.
Police alleged that the DHS had often lost track of him when he changed address without notifying them.
Harbis said Neal had shown a blatant disregard for the DHS orders.
I believe he boasted about the number of victims he has infected with HIV and I don’t believe he will stop, he said.
Speaking on JOY FM’s Rainbow Report, Detective Inspector Tony Cecchin, manager of the Sexual Crimes Squad, appealed to the gay community for help.
It’s a very unusual case, he said.
In fact it’s the first time in my career, in 30 years of policing, that I’ve been involved in this type of case.
Cecchin appealed for anyone with information to get in touch, stressing that they could remain anonymous if they wished, and confidentiality was guaranteed.