Warning: This article contains graphic details. Brendan Russell, 40, denies manslaughter, GBH and female genital mutilation after complaints from female customers
After mum Samantha Strickland, 31, had a silicone snowflake implant put into her thumb, proudly posted photos of her new feature on I nstagram.
“Did a little custom thumb implant project today with my homie Bslice,” she wrote. Shortly after she posted the photos, she was dead.
Samantha, who lived on the Central Coast in Australia, had been to see body modifier Brendan Russell – who she nicknamed Bslice.
The Daily Mail reports she’d been visiting Brendan for some time, and he’d previously removed part of her ear in another procedure.
But just weeks after her latest modification, Samantha’s seven-year-old daughter tragically found her dead body at home. A post-mortem revealed she’d died from septicaemia, stemming from an infection in her right hand.
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Russell’s other body modification work included tattooing eyeballs and “scarification” – which involves etching or scratching repeatedly into skin to permanently modify the body.
Shortly after Samantha’s death, Russell, now 40, was arrested. Then more complaints from other women who had been treated by him came to light.
In time, Russell was charged with manslaughter over Samantha’s death, female genital mutilation of a woman in 2015 and grievous bodily harm of a woman in 2016.
At the opening of his trial in Australia, the woman who claims Russell gave her a botched tummy tuck told the court: “I just woke up in extreme pain.
“I got up probably too quick and when I got up I just felt so dizzy… there was fresh blood everywhere, all over the lounge, all over my nightie.”
She added she ended up in hospital on a cannula after her wound became infected.
Russell has admitted carrying out the work on each of the women, but has denied the work led to their medical complications.
In the Australian state of New South Wales, there isn’t any specific legislation over body modification procedures. However, anyone working in the “skin penetration industry” is required to follow public health regulations.
Russell’s trial continues.
‘Dr Evil’ and body modification in the UK
While some places are still catching up in legislating the body modification industry, the UK has some regulations in place.
The trial of so-called ‘Dr Evil’ in Wolverhampton Crown Court in 2019 ruled that a body modifier who had performed procedures such as tongue-splitting, nipple removal and ear removal without anaesthetic had broken the law.
Brendan McCarthy, who ran Dr Evil’s Body Modification Emporium, was jailed for three years and four months after pleading guilty to three counts of grievous bodily harm.
At the ruling, Judge Amjad Nawaz said McCarthy was only registered as a tattooist and piercer, and didn’t have the necessary qualifications to carry out medical procedures.
The court heard that Ezechiel Lott, who had his ear removed by ‘Dr Evil’ in 2015, hadn’t known at the time that the procedure was illegal.
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In comments read to the court, Lott was reported to have said: “He stated that had he known it was illegal, he would never have had the procedure because he certainly was not that desperate to have his ear removed.”
The case was referred to the Court of Appeal, which agreed with the judge’s ruling. It stated that, just because the customers at the time had consented to the procedures, this didn’t mean an offence had not taken place.
The Court of Appeal also ruled that the extreme surgical procedures were performed for no good medical reason by someone who was not medically trained.