Mother tells court of tummy tuck gone bad

© Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS Brendan Russell allegedly left a woman bleeding heavily and writhing in pain after a tummy tuck.

As her two kids got haircuts in a shopping centre barbershop, a young mother’s bemoaning about the size of her belly caught Brendan Leigh Russell’s attention.

The shop’s resident body modifier allegedly offered to help out with a “tummy tuck”.

“Brendan said he’d done that before … (he) pretty much said it was a pretty easy procedure,” the mother told the Sydney District Court on Monday.

But the allegedly unqualified Russell is now accused of leaving the woman bleeding heavily, writhing in “extreme pain” and needing significant medical intervention to correct his work.

The 40-year-old has pleaded not guilty to intentionally causing grievous bodily harm in the back of his shop Transition in Erina Fair Shopping Centre in November 2016.

He has also denied charges of manslaughter and female ge–tal mutilation related to two other women he operated on in 2015 and 2017.

Judge Helen Syme, hearing the trial without a jury, has suppressed the identity of all three complainants.

The judge was told on Monday the tummy tuck procedure was performed under local anaesthetic for $800.

Russell had earlier allayed the mother’s fears about remaining awake, boasting of his “quite … good reputation” and how a surgeon had remarked his application of anaesthetic was “amazing”, the complainant said.

The body modifier donned gloves but no surgical mask or gown before he sliced into the woman’s abdomen, removed a strip of skin measuring about 20cm and stitched the wound.

His aftercare instructions? Rest up, have Advill (ibuprofen) and return in about a week to have sutures removed, according to the woman.

At home on the couch, she took Nurofen – another ibuprofen brand – as well as some diazepam and tried to sleep.

“I just woke up in extreme pain … (my husband) looked at my nightie and there was fresh blood everywhere, the lounge was covered in blood,” she said on Monday.

She later stumbled and collapsed on the floor, causing her and husband to panic.

“He phoned Brendan. All I remember is (my husband) saying there’s blood everywhere,” she said.

Through her husband, Russell allegedly advised the Nurofen treatment cease, Advill begin and the compression bandage be removed.

“It just kept bleeding from the wound, my dressings were full of blood,” she said.

Russell removed some stitches at a follow-up appointment, applied steri-strips and put the substantial bleeding down to “the way your body is healing”.

On the advice of friends and a GP, the woman reluctantly went to Gosford Hospital, where she was booked for surgery and stayed two nights.

Further corrective surgery resolved her pain and mobility issues but left a long, thin scar stretching from hip to hip, the court was told.

Despite the issues, the woman refused to give up Russell’s name until she saw media reports in 2018 that he’d been charged with mutilating a customer’s ge–tals with a branding iron.

“She was getting annihilated on social media and I felt sorry for her,” the mother said.

“I felt like if someone else came forward as well, maybe people would realise that these things happen.”

Russell’s lawyer is due to cross-examine the woman on Tuesday.

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