Police hunting a gay man who was convicted last year of recklessly infecting his lover with HIV believe he may have spent some time in France.

Mark James was sentenced to three years and four months in jail when he failed to appear in court in August 2006.

Police have been looking for him since he first missed a court date and a nationwide hunt failed to find James.

olice later confirmed that the search was now international.

James, a 48-year-old florist, became the first gay man to be convicted for knowingly transmitting HIV.

He was sentenced to 40 months at Isleworth Crown Court earlier this month.

He was convicted of causing actual bodily harm to his partner but failed to appear at the sentencing hearing and has been on the run since then.

He had initially pleaded guilty, but later argued the court could not prove he had caused his partner to contract the virus.

James, formerly of Park Road, Burgess Hill, Sussex, had been aware of his HIV+ status since 2004, but had not informed his partner.

Acting Detective Inspector Mike Sunman, of Hounslow Police, described James as a danger to public health, and appealed for help in tracing him.

“This crime was carried out when he was in a long-term relationship – but the longer that he is out there, the more likely it is that he will start another relationship. Does he present a risk to the public? The answer is yes,” DI. Sunman told reporters.

Anyone with any information about James’ whereabouts should contact the CID at Hounslow Police on 0208 721 9104 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.