Preston man engaged in sexual acts with girls and failed to tell them he was being treated for HIV, but denies allegations he groomed and raped them
A man accused of rape, exploitation and drugs offences has taken to the witness stand to defend himself.
Amos O'Cheng, of Winckley Square, Preston, and his co-defendant Dickson Ngaunde, 37, of Stanford Avenue, Brighton, Sussex, are standing trial at Preston Crown Court over alleged sexual exploitation crimes and the sexual abuse of women and girls in Preston.
O’Cheng denies three counts of raping a child, two of raping a woman, three of facilitating travel with a view to exploitation, false imprisonment, and four drugs charges, while Ngaunde is accused of raping a woman, false imprisonment and facilitating travel with a view to exploitation.
Preston Crown Court was told O'Cheng was diagnosed with HIV in January 1998 after coming to the UK from Uganda.
However he was prescribed antiretroviral treatment (ART) which can reduce the level of the virus in a patient's blood.
Since 2007 his level - 20 copies per ml - has been considered an "undetectable viral load" which means it can no longer be detected by standard blood tests or passed on through sex.
O'Cheng told the court he will remain on medication for life to keep the level low.
He said: " I fell ill and had pneumonia and couldn't breathe properly so when they took me to the hospital I couldn't walk so they had to call an ambulance.
"I was in hospital for six months."
The prosecution say O'Cheng had sex with girls and women he had either groomed or given alcohol to, including two vulnerable girls aged 14 and 16.
Giving evidence he admitted having sex with both girls at his flat, but said it was consensual and that the 14-year-old had told him she was 17.
The court was previously told the girls were left frightened after learning of his illness.
Judge Philip Parry said although it was a feature of the case that he did not disclose his condition to them, and that the girl claim he misled them about his age, he directed the jury that neither feature should" bear on the question of consent".
In a separate incident O'Cheng is accused of raping a young woman who says she woke naked in a man's apartment after drinking half a drink he had bought her, with no memory of leaving a club with him or arriving at his home.
The woman previously said she later exchanged text messages with the man, suspecting her drink may have been spiked, and he told her they had 'slept together'.
The woman alleges it could not have been consensual because she did not know about it.
But O'Cheng told jurors it was consensual and CCTV of the woman, wrapped in a towel, in his kitchen with him, looking in his fridge, was played to the court.
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