THE lover of a photographer who infected her with HIV said she will stand by him after he was jailed for doing the same to an ex-girlfriend.

Les Pringle, 48, from Tynemouth, North Tyneside, was jailed for three and a half years yesterday at Newcastle Crown Court for inflicting grievous bodily harm on a woman known as X.

He had unprotected sex with her, despite knowing he had HIV and being told by doctors that he could pass on the virus.

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After the case, it emerged another woman has been infected, but that she is standing by her lover.

They were at school together, had a relationship in later life, but they broke up suddenly.

She fell ill and eventually had a HIV test which was positive, and she suspected Pringle had infected her.

Pringle was in denial about his illness, but following a suicide attempt in the River Tyne, his state of mind changed, and she decided to help him.

Over time, their romance was rekindled and she remained supportive of him through his trial.

She said: "I had to think very hard about whether I could forgive him, and it did take a while.

"I realised he wasn't a bad person. He just wasn't dealing with it. He said he had finally had his head dragged out of the sand."

The woman, a mother, who has not been named, does not believe he deliberately infected her and can now forgive him.

He dated X at a separate time and was in a loving relationship with her. She only found out she had HIV after they had split up and was about to start another romance.

After Pringle was jailed for infecting X, Detective Superintendent Steve Wade said: "We welcome this sentence which will see Pringle serving a considerable time in custody.

"He breached a partners trust and showed absolutely no regard for her personal safety by withholding the information that he was HIV positive.

"Pringle knew he was HIV positive but recklessly ignored the health advice he had been given by having unprotected sexual relations with the victim.

"This has been a long and difficult inquiry and our thoughts continue to be with his victim who will have to live with the consequences of Pringle's actions for the rest of her life."

After Pringle was convicted, X released a statement saying: "The selfish behaviour of Les Pringle is nothing short of appalling.

"Through the position he now finds himself in, I hope Les Pringle uses this time to reflect on the damage he has done through his treatment of others, and learn something of compassion.

"There is no shame in having an HIV test, or indeed being HIV positive.

"Look after yourself and others, going for a test may well save your life."