HIV-positive stripper infected husband, court hears

Jun 05, 2007 07:53 PM

Courts Bureau

The Crown is calling for a three-year prison term for an HIV-positive stripper who infected her husband, never breathing a word about her status for eight years until she was hospitalized with a related illness in 2004.

In the mid-1990s, Suwalee Iamkhong arrived in Canada on a work visa to perform as an exotic dancer at the Toronto’s Zanzibar club. This was several months after she had tested positive for HIV in Hong Kong in 1995, court heard today.

The Thai woman met Canadian Percy Whiteman shortly after she arrived in Toronto, and they married in 1997. They intermittently lived apart, but maintained their conjugal relationship for seven years until she finally informed him she was HIV positive when she lay in hospital with a related meningitis and thought she was dying, court heard.

Superior Court Justice Todd Ducharme convicted her of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and aggravated assault endangering life in January, after a two-week trial that took place last fall.

Defence lawyer David Berg is asking for a conditional sentence to be served in the community lasting two years less a day.

Iamkhong, 38, claimed that she had taken a Canadian immigration-related HIV test that cleared her as negative, which is what she believed. But Ducharme found that was not credible.

Today Whiteman, 31, succeeded in lifting a publication ban on his identity.

He told reporters that he wanted the ban removed so that his estranged wife’s name could be published. The printing of her name was banned to avoid revealing his.

“To this day what I say is, `Why?’.” he told reporters. “I blame society, the system and her.”

He called for a life sentence. “I got a life sentence. Why can’t she?”

He said when he first found out he “drank like a … fish.” He wanted to know why, but couldn’t get any answers, he said. After a week, he left her.

The case returns to court June 12 to set a date for further sentencing hearings.