Apology letters for victims of HIV offender

A man who put three men at risk by having unprotected sex while he knew he was HIV-positive has written letters of apology to all the victims.

The letters from Johnny Lachlan Benjamin Lumsden, 27, will be given to the Crown by defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger to be passed on to victims, who he met on social media.

Lumsden himself is not allowed to contact the men directly, but he says he now wants to give something back to the community.

Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders jailed him for two years six months.

Lumsden’s sentencing was told he had offered to work with an Auckland-based community organisation, Body Positive, which provides services to men like him.

Miss Bulger said Lumsden “very much regrets” the harm he had caused, but if he was given a home detention sentence he did not intend to stay at home to serve the sentence. “He wants to be doing something constructive to make good the wrongs he has done”.

Lumsden was appearing for sentence after admitting charges of endangering the health of three men by criminal nuisance, and a representative charge of supplying methamphetamine.

Lumsden knew of his diagnosis since May 2016, but between August and October he met up with the three victims at his home, the Christchurch District Court was told.

When asked by all three victims, he told each of them that he was “clean”.

When police obtained Lumsden’s cell phone they found messages showing that between October and November Lumsden was methamphetamine dealing, and also offering to inject one of the buyers with the drug. He told the person that he had studied nursing and knew how to do it safely.

One of the victims wrote in his victim impact statement that he had suffered a “death of anxiety” while waiting for Lumsden’s case to be resolved.

Deirdre Elsmore said it was difficult to accept Lumsden’s claim that he had a genuine belief that the sexual activity was safe. That seemed to be an effort by him to minimise his understanding of the offending.

Judge David Saunders noted that Lumsden was a first offender. He had been arrested and held in custody while on electronically monitored bail when he was found with syringes. He was discharged on that offence.

It had been “reckless” of Lumsden to have sex with the men when he knew he had been diagnosed as HIV-positive.

The judge imposed a series of jail sentences totalling two years six months.

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