An Australian body modifier will stand trial accused of causing a woman’s death by implanting a plastic snowflake under her right hand.
Brendan Leigh Russell, 38, was ordered to face Gosford district court in New South Wales on Friday after his failure to appear the previous day was attributed to starting a new job.
Defence lawyer Ahmed Dib told the court on Friday Russell did not appear in court on Thursday because of a miscommunication.
Dib said Russell had entered pleas of not guilty at his previous appearance in Gosford local court and did not think he had to attend on Thursday.
He said Russell, who formally pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges of manslaughter, female genital mutilation and causing grievous bodily harm, had been working at a new job to save money to pay legal fees for his upcoming trial.
Judge David Wilson ordered Russell to appear at the NSW supreme court in Sydney on 26 July for a trial date to be set.
The trial is expected to take three to four weeks.
Dib indicated he would be seeking to have 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 Hegyl’s heavily infected hand but she died weeks later from blood poisoning.
He is also accused of using 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 hole in her skin and severed stomach muscles.
Rollins, 42 – who calls himself Luna Cobra – has pleaded not guilty to a charge of aiding and abetting female genital mutilation.
The 42-year-old is accused of coaching Russell to perform the 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.