‘She was pissed off’
Darrell Benjamin Phelan (right) speaks with his lawyer during a break in his trial at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Monday. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
She says her former boyfriend jabbed her with a syringe full of his hepatitis C-infected blood. He says she made up the whole story to get revenge on him.
“She told me I broke her heart, so she’d make sure I went to jail for a long time,” Darrell Benjamin Phelan testified Monday during the final day of his trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s. “She was pissed off.”
The 30-year-old St. John’s man is charged with aggravated assault and breaching probation.
The charges were the result of an incident that reportedly happened Jan. 29, 2011, at the house where the woman was living at the time.
Phelan is accused of attacking the girl with a syringe full of his blood with the intention of infecting her with hepatitis C, a disease that primarily affects the liver and can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
Accused admitted to having many syringes
The woman had testified last week that during a confrontation with Phelan, she realized she had been jabbed because she felt a pinch on her upper thigh and saw the blood seeping through her pajama pants.
RNC photos that were entered into evidence show the puncture wound.
The woman was taken to the hospital and given drugs to fend off the disease. She had to continue taking the drug for six months after. She did not contract the disease.
When officers searched her house, they found squirts of blood on the door frame, which they later determined was Phelan’s blood from the syringe.
When officers went to look for Phelan at his house that night, there was no answer.
But Phelan insists that when he returned home from the woman’s house, he had been there the rest of the night.
“I didn’t hear any knock at the door,” he testified.
When asked by his lawyer, Stephen Orr, why he didn’t turn himself into police when he found out they were looking for him, Phelan replied, “I wanted to wait and see if (she) would tell the truth.”
He admitted to having many syringes, since he was a drug addict and used them to inject cocaine into his arm.
However, he said he didn’t use any of them on the woman. He testified that after meeting with her that night, he merely hugged her and went home.
He suggested the woman must have somehow gotten one of his syringes and injected herself with the blood left in it, despite knowing he was Hepatitis C positive.
In cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland pointed out that there had to have been quite a bit of blood in the syringe for it to cause splatters on the door frame.
He questioned why there would be that much of his blood left in one of his syringes, when there are usually only traces after drug use.
Phelan said he left often that much blood in them.
In closing arguments, Orr pointed out there were no witnesses to the incident and that it would’ve been easy for the woman to stage the whole thing, since she still had a key to his house and could’ve taken one of his syringes.
Orr argued that even if Phelan did jab the woman with a syringe, that does not constitute aggravated assault, since it did not endanger her life and had no dire consequences.
“There was no actual harm. It’s only life-threatening if she had contracted the disease,” said Orr, comparing it to an unfired gun.
Strickland, however, said it’s not the consequence of the action, but the risk involved.
“She wasn’t infected, but her life was in danger,” he said. “She doesn’t have to be infected. There was a risk of infection.”
As for the possibility that the woman jabbed herself with the syringe, Strickand said it makes absolutely no sense that she would intentionally infect herself with a disease.
He said it is all an attempt by a man with a criminal record — including convictions for misleading police — to avoid conviction for his latest charges.
Justice Wayne Dymond is expected to render his verdict Thursday.