Perth: transgender sex worker accused of infecting man with HIV

Stock image.
Stock image.

A TRANSGENDER sex worker is not criminally negligent for passing on HIV to a man because she never knew she had the disease, her lawyer has told a Perth court.

Clayton James Palmer, who identifies as a woman and advertised her services under the name Sienna Fox, is on trial in the WA District Court accused of causing grievous bodily harm by having unprotected sex with a man who was later diagnosed with HIV.

Prosecutor Ben Stanwix told the jury on Monday that Palmer visited the WA Substance Users Association in August 2014 to get tested for sexually transmitted infections.

The following month, nurse Joanne Morgan visited Palmer’s home and told her there was a positive indication of HIV and gave her information, including her disclosure obligations.

He said Palmer asked Ms Morgan if she was going to die and whether she would have to take medication forever.

But Palmer never returned follow-up phone calls or text messages.

“Ms Palmer, it seems, didn’t want to face reality,” Mr Stanwix said.

Two months later, Palmer met the complainant, who cannot be named, and continued to see him until August 2015, telling him she was regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

In September 2015, the complainant saw a doctor and was told he had HIV.

Police tracked down Palmer, who had moved to NSW, via online advertisements for her services.

Mr Stanwix said it was not alleged Palmer deliberately gave the man HIV, but she was criminally negligent because she knew she had the disease and did not take reasonable care or precautions.

Defence counsel Simon Freitag disputed whether Ms Morgan, who he said had her own personal issues at the time and was not the “stereotypical image” of a nurse, had communicated to Palmer she had HIV.

He also questioned claims the complainant was only having sex with Palmer at the time.

Mr Freitag said the complainant and Palmer developed a relationship, with Palmer even getting jealous when she thought he was seeing another transgender woman.

Both lawyers asked the jury to put aside personal feelings and deal with the evidence clinically, reminding them that Palmer was not on trial for being a sex worker or transgender.

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