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Tuesday 22 January 2008

Australia: SA judge may relax Stuart McDonald's onerous bail conditions

Stuart McDonald, the first person to be detained without charge under South Australia’s public health Act, in April 2007, for alleged reckless HIV transmission, was in court yesterday, where the judge agreed to consider relaxing the very strict bail restrictions imposed on him.

These conditions include:

  • the requirement to wear an electronic monitoring device
  • being barred from internet access
  • being tested for alcohol or drugs
  • and not being allowed any unauthorised visitors.

He was originally told to live in the basement 'granny flat' of a family (the identity of which is suppressed, although the flat's owner is McDonald's AUS$2000 bail guarantor) but problems with his electronic monitoring device meant that he had to move into the family's dining room. He is prohibited from leaving the property, except for medical appointments, when he must be accompanied by a department-appointed person.

(More details on the case, and the impact, can be found in this excellent article by Sally Cameron on See also this post from my blog last October, about one of McDonald's alleged 'victims' who is suing the South Australian government.)

In a letter to the court, the family said their social life was now "in ruins" and that McDonald lived under an "oppressive regime" of constant checks by authorities.

McDonald is charged with seven counts of endangering life, but has not yet appeared in court to answer the charges.

Full report, from the The (Adeleide) Advertiser, is below.

HIV 'predator' set for own home
by Sean Fewster, Court Reporter
January 22, 2008

ALLEGED HIV sex offender Stuart McDonald left court today with a smile on his face, having moved a step closer to living on his own. The Adelaide Magistrates Court agreed to consider relaxing the strict bail imposed on McDonald, who is accused of recklessly and deliberately infecting eight men with HIV. If successful, he will move out of the suburban home he shares with a family of four, who say they struggle to live under his "oppressive regime".

The ruling comes despite fears McDonald will again have unprotected sex if not closely supervised. "If he were to abuse any newfound freedoms and expose another person to HIV infection, there would be enormously serious consequences," prosecutor John Wells said. "HIV is a major health problem, and the consequences are dire not only for McDonald's sex partners, but for others exposed to the disease."

The 42-year-old has yet to plead to allegations he infected the men between January 2005 and the middle of last year. It is alleged he was later dismissive about infecting others, saying "that's their problem". McDonald was released in June, under home detention conditions, to live in the family's granny flat. Problems with electronic monitoring meant he had to move into their dining room. In a letter, the family told the court their social life was now "in ruins". They said McDonald lived under an "oppressive regime" of constant checks by authorities.

Today Mick Woods, for McDonald, said his client spent eight hours a day alone while the family attended work and school. He had spent 10 days alone last year while they went on holiday. "In all honesty, he has demonstrated quite clearly and unequivocally he will comply with the terms of his bail," he said. Mr Wells said that was all the more reason to maintain the status quo.

"Compliance is a requirement of bail, and he should not be rewarded for obeying the law," he said. Chief Magistrate Liz Bolton remanded McDonald on his existing bail, ordering a report be prepared in time for a hearing next month.



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