WINDSOR, Ont. - A man convicted of knowingly spreading the virus that causes AIDS was handed an 18-year prison sentence Friday after a judge declined to declare him a dangerous offender.

Carl Leone pleaded guilty last year to 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault after failing to inform his sexual partners of his HIV status. Five of the 15 women are now HIV-positive.

On Friday, Superior Court Justice Joseph Quinn handed Leone 15 consecutive sentences totalling 49 years -- a number Quinn reduced to 18 years to better reflect sentencing guidelines laid out in the Criminal Code.

In passing sentence, Quinn said Leone committed a "despicable and selfish crime for five to 10 minutes of sexual gratification.''

Leone, 32, will have to surrender a DNA sample, and his name will be added to Ontario's sex offender registry.

He will be eligible for parole in six years.

Defence lawyer Andrew Bradie, who noted he hadn't spoken with his client, said outside court the sentence was fair and that he would not appeal.

Leone's mother left the courthouse with tears in her eyes, accompanied by Leone's father and sister. The family did not comment.

Quinn told the court that Leone's age, his lack of a criminal record and the fact he pleaded guilty to spare his victims the trauma of testifying were factors in his sentence.

At his dangerous offender hearing in February, Leone expressed remorse and said he hopes he can be forgiven and one day return to the community.

A dangerous offender designation would have jailed Leone indefinitely.

Leone, who helped run his wealthy parents' music store, was told in 1997 by Windsor Essex County Health Unit workers that he was HIV-positive -- seven years before his arrest on June 6, 2004.

Court has heard that Leone lived in a "sex-drenched, drug-drenched environment'' that included frequenting strip clubs and having casual sex.