A NSW body modification artist was “panicked” at the prospect of being blamed for the death of a client under whose skin he had implanted a silicone snowflake weeks earlier, a court has heard.
Brendan Leigh Russell is on trial in the District Court for the woman’s manslaughter and denies allegations the procedure he performed on her hand in March 2017 caused a fatal blood infection.
On Tuesday a witness told the Downing Centre District Court the woman was one of Mr Russell’s “groupies” who he flirted with to coax them into “any procedure he wanted”.
Camera IconBody modification artist Brendan Russell is on trial for charges including manslaughter. Credit: Supplied
Before the snowflake operation the woman underwent other procedures by Mr Russell including having her nipples cut and stitched into the shape of love hearts, the court heard.
The witness, who cannot be identified, recalled in court how she was in a car with Mr Russell when the woman called him in pain on the night of her death.
“She rang and it was night time and she sounded very groggy, and she was really concerned about her hand and she didn’t know what was going on,” the witness said, fighting back tears.
“She was like, ‘I think I’ve got a really bad infection’.
“He used to tell everyone the same line, ‘It’s just irritated, it’s not infected’. He had this way of sort of shutting you down.”
Camera IconThe 40-year-old Central Coast man ran the shop Transition. NCA NewsWire / James Gourley Credit: News Corp Australia
The next day, the witness said they answered Mr Russell’s phone to a call from the woman’s neighbour.
The neighbour delivered the news that the woman’s body had been discovered by her young daughter.
“ (Mr Russell) was really worried,” the witness said. “He was saying, ‘What if it comes out it was something I did?’.
“He was really panicked about it.”
The court heard Mr Russell, who opened the shop Transition at Erina in 2016, was charismatic and joked with customers in a way that which enabled him to talk them into procedures they didn’t plan for.
The 40-year-old was fun but “unprofessional” toward clients – particularly females – and would allegedly give off “sexual vibes” to persuade them, the court was told.
The witness said Mr Russell, known in the industry as BSlice DotCom, was going “too far” and not even his friends could convince him to change his behaviour.
“If a customer would come in for something he would try to talk them into something else,” the witness claimed.
“One person wanted to get scarification lines and Brendan was like, ‘That’s boring let’s chop your ears off’.”
The witness said Mr Russell’s clients thought he was “God’s gift” and went under his knife without signing a consent form, which was not offered to body modification customers.
Camera IconBrendan Russell faces charges relating to three separate procedures. Credit: Supplied
Mr Russell has also pleaded not guilty at trial to female genital mutilation and causing grievous bodily harm.
The charges related to separate procedures in January 2015 and November 2016.
The witness said he performed a tummy tuck on a woman at the Erina shop after convincing the client she would “look like Elle MacPherson in no time”.
He allegedly did not tell the woman about any risks of the procedure and said that if she did need to see a doctor afterwards to “just not to say that he did it”.
The woman’s stomach wound became infected after Mr Russell allegedly cut into muscle, requiring her to spend time in hospital and undergo further surgery.
The witness said Mr Russell was “very hostile” while the woman was in hospital and was scared he could go to jail.
He allegedly became “pretty violent” toward the witness as he wanted them to ensure the woman did not reveal who had performed the procedure, the court heard.
Mr Russell’s judge-alone trial continues.Internet Explorer Channel Network