Man with hepatitis C denies jabbing girlfriend with syringe full of his blood

Rosie
Rosie Mullaley
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‘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.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

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  • Marie Power
    April 17, 2012 - 08:42

    Isn't it amazing how much cocaine is being used by young people. Where do they get the money for this expensive drug and the syringes ? How can these people work when they are high or do they even work? This is a different generation coming up and God help their children!! What are these innocent kids seeing everyday?

  • Political watcher
    April 10, 2012 - 08:28

    The unfortunate yet costly issue with these types of cases is that the "bad" element attracts to each other thus making it dificult who to believe. Many times both sids are fudging their stories. I recall very recently where a girlfriend cheered when her boyfriend was found not-guilty of beating two other women with a baseball bat. Fast forward a few months and the same woman is in court charging him with beating her. This is what our system is costing us and wasting judges time. I can relay a true story highlighting this: Several years ago at the old Stanleys Steamer bar at closing time, my friends and I were leaving and when we got outside there was a guy fighting with his girlfriend, he was hitting her and threw her on the bonnet of a parked car. I stepped in and pulled him from her and was holding him against the building trying to calm him down when then I felt someone on my back and then clawing at my face; lo and behold it was his girlfriend. I just letthe guy go and looked to her and wished her good luck.

  • Dee
    April 10, 2012 - 07:23

    For someone else to take tainited blood from another person and inject herself,well there is certainly something wrong with her,if that's the truth.Just to get even that's a big chance to take,not only is it a big expense on the court system,and the medical system for her drugs,in that case she should be charged if she did it herself.But on another note,you Mr Phelan you don,t look like a saint and you are certainly known to the courts.Maybe you both are kind of flaky.