Mother of woman who died after implant procedure labels body modifier ‘a monster’ in court


A mother whose daughter died after a body modifier implanted a silicone snowflake into her hand has told a Sydney court she believes a monster is now off the streets.

In November, Brendan Leigh Russell, 41, was found guilty of manslaughter after a judge-only trial. He had deterred the woman from seeking medical attention after her implant had become infected.

During Russell’s NSW district court sentence hearing on Wednesday, the victim’s mother said she missed her daughter “with every breath”.

“My daughter is dead … and yet Brendan Russell still has not shown the slightest remorse any time nor has he accepted any responsibility,” she said.

“If [she] was here she would say ‘I trusted him’. I can’t begin to describe the pain we all feel every day. I don’t get to hold my baby, not ever again.”

During his trial, the mother gave evidence her daughter, who has not been named, considered Russell “a god”.

“He’s the only one I would ever let do this to me,” she told her mother.

The body modifier, who went by the monikers BSlice and hemostat, inserted the snowflake into her hand at his Central Coast parlour in 2017.

Several weeks later she complained about pain and possible infection, leading Russell to reopen her wound when blood and pus rushed out.

The court has heard he then repositioned the implant, stitched the wound back up, advised against seeing a medical practitioner and told her to take painkillers instead.

Two days later she died from sepsis stemming from the infection.

“I was going to say there are no winners here, but there are because I truly believe a monster is being kept off the streets today,” her mother said.

Russell was also found guilty of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm by performing a quasi-medical and “clearly dangerous” abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” on another woman in 2016.

That woman on Wednesday said the public and extremely difficult trial caused a range of emotions – hurt, anger, sadness and disbelief.

“Brendan, you were not qualified to do that procedure on me, you did not provide a duty of care after and did not take responsibility,” she said, adding her scarring was a constant reminder of her trauma.

“You did not care about what could have happened to me. I wish I could turn back time, I wish our paths never crossed and I did not put my trust in you as a so-called professional.”

He will also be sentenced for a third charge of female genital mutilation in relation to a different woman in Newcastle in January 2015, having used a branding iron in a consensual procedure that left the woman unable to use tampons or wear underwear without discomfort.

Defence barrister Mark Tedeschi QC submitted that consent was a highly significant feature for the judge to consider.

“The three victims knew perfectly well what his qualifications and lack thereof were. The fact they might not have been provided a voluminous list of complications doesn’t mean they haven’t consented.”

He also raised the legislation against female body modification as stamping out the “revolting and hideous practice done on defenceless children”.

“It was not passed for adult women in full knowledge of their sexuality wishing to change the appearance of their genitals.”

The Health Care Complaints Commission had made sure that Russell would never again practise tattooing, piercing, body modification or art, he said.

The crown submitted no other punishment than full-time custody was appropriate.