Body modifier feared jail, trial told

Body modifier feared jail, trial told

Months before a customer's death, a NSW Central Coast body modifier allegedly panicked about going to jail after a different customer ended up in hospital.

Brendan Leigh Russell, 40, has pleaded not guilty to three charges including manslaughter related to procedures on three women between 2015 and 2017.

One of the women – who received a “tummy tuck” in the back of his parlour in a Central Coast shopping centre in November 2016 – ended up seeking medical attention after her wound became infected, Russell's trial has been told.

Multiple surgeries followed to rectify the wound and scarring.

“They wanted to go to hospital, Brendan didn't want them to go to hospital,” a witness told his trial on Tuesday.

The witness, who cannot be identified, said Russell warned her that if the customer sought medical attention “he would end up going to jail” because doctors didn't like his work.

“The whole time she was in hospital, he was really hostile and scared they were going to come after him,” the witness said.

The trial has been told Russell eventually refunded the woman $800 she'd paid for the procedure.

At the meeting in which the refund occurred, the customer says Russell boasted he could have fixed it and she didn't need to seek medical treatment.

Despite the frayed relationship with that customer, Russell continued performing body modifications, including implant surgeries in his Erina shop.

In April 2017, a long-time customer died soon after having Russell insert a plastic snowflake in her hand.

The trial on Tuesday was told the woman sought the body modifier's assistance several times between the operation and her death.

The night she died, she called Russell “groggy” and said “I think I have a really bad infection”, according to a witness who broke down in court recalling the events.

“You could tell she was really worried about it, she was in pain,” said the witness who cannot be identified.

“You could tell there was something wrong.”

Yet, she testified Russell told the groggy customer “it's not infected, it's just irritated”, advised she take some ibuprofen and see him in the morning.

The woman's body was found the next day.

Russell was arrested in 2018.

The trial resumes on Wednesday afternoon.

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