National

NSW body modifier a no-show in court

By AAP Newswire

A body modifier accused of implanting a plastic snowflake in a woman's hand causing blood poisoning leading to her death has failed to appear in court because he had started a new job.

Brendan Leigh Russell, 38, had been due to appear in the Gosford District Court on Thursday to formally plead not guilty to charges of manslaughter, female genital mutilation and causing grievous bodily harm.

"He's chosen to go to work than come to court to face serious charges," Judge David Wilson said when told Russell would not be appearing because of his new job.

The judge ordered Russell to appear before him on Friday where he is expected to enter pleas of not guilty and a trial date will be set.

His lawyer is expected to apply on Friday for separate trials for Russell and his co-accused, body modifier Howard Rollins.

Police claim Russell implanted the snowflake under Samantha Hegyl's right hand in early 2017 but when she complained of being in pain, the body modifier allegedly urged her to visit him and not go to hospital.

Russell then allegedly rotated the snowflake and inserted a second one in Ms Hegyl's heavily infected hand but she died weeks later.

Russell is also accused of used a branding iron to mutilate another female customer's genitals.

Court documents claimed Russell, who is not a qualified medical practitioner and had used his "modification name" Bslicedotcom on social media, mutilated the woman by "burning the labia majora off the victim with a branding iron" in early 2016 at Newcastle West.

Russell's third alleged victim was a woman who visited his Erina tattoo and body modification business in late 2016 for a "tummy tuck" but ended up in hospital with a five-cent-piece hole in her skin and severed stomach muscles.

Rollins, 42 - who calls himself "Luna Cobra" - did appear in court on Thursday where he formally pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting female genital mutilation.

Rollins is accused of coaching Russell to perform the 2016 procedure where the branding iron was allegedly used.

Body modification is not legislated in NSW, however members of the so-called skin penetration industry are required to follow public health regulations.

Russell's Instagram profile included images of split tongues, implants under the skin and "scarification" - etching or burning permanent designs into the skin.