A body modifier jailed over the manslaughter of one of his clients and the disfiguring of two others will spend less time behind bars after having one of his convictions quashed on appeal.
Brendan Russell, a self-proclaimed “extreme body modification artist”, was found guilty of three charges, including female genital mutilation, grievous bodily harm with intent and manslaughter, in a judge alone trial in the NSW District Court in 2021.
Following the verdict, The 42-year-old was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with a non-parole period of seven years and six months.
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Russell subsequently appealed the convictions and the sentence.
In a decision handed down in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on Friday, Russell was acquitted of the conviction on the charge of female genital mutilation but the other two convictions were upheld.
His sentence was reduced by three years to seven years, with a non-parole period of five years and three months.
With the new sentence, he will be eligible for parole on December 14, 2026.
The first count, which was quashed, involved a “labiaplasty” procedure in January 2015, in which Russell – who was not at any time a medical practitioner – partially excised a woman’s labia minora.
The procedure was conducted for cosmetic purposes.
As a result of the procedure, the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, experienced pain for about a year, is unable to use tampons due to the pain and experiences discomfort when wearing underwear due to sensitivity at the site of the procedure.
In the second case, Russell performed a tummy tuck procedure on a woman, with her requiring emergency corrective surgery that left significant scarring on her stomach.
In the third case, Russell implanted a silicone snowflake into the back of a woman’s hand.
She told Russell on at least three occasions her hand had become discoloured and swollen, and she was in extreme pain.
About three weeks after the procedure, he re-opened the wound and repositioned the implant, stitching it back up despite blood and pus rushing out.
This manipulation likely caused the infection to spread further throughout her body and via her blood stream, the sentencing judge said.
And again he dissuaded her from seeing a doctor and told her migraine medication would suffice, potentially numbing the effect of the septicemia when it had reached her organs.
“Had she taken urgent medical advice even at that time she had a good prospect of survival,” Judge Helen Syme said in sentencing Russell in July 2022.
“(There is) no other conclusion to draw other than his concern was not for her welfare but for himself, his reputation, and his business as a body modifier.”
In all three cases, the women consented to the procedures being performed and were aware Russel was not a qualified medical practitioner.
“However, in two offences he convinced each complainant he was sufficiently skilled to perform the procedures safely, “ Judge Syme said.
Russell’s hubris and misplaced self-confidence in his abilities drove the trust his victims had in him, the judge said.
– With AAP