Body modifier Brendan Leigh Russell in court over alleged genital mutilation at Newcastle West

Brendan Leigh Russell.

Brendan Leigh Russell.

A BODY modifier accused of mutilating a woman’s genitals at a Newcastle West business in 2016 has appeared in court for the first time.

Brendan Leigh Russell, 37, of Terrigal, is accused of using a branding iron to burn the labia majora off the alleged victim’s vagina, causing her permanent injury, according to court documents.

He did not enter a plea to a charge of female genital mutilation in Gosford Local Court on Tuesday and the matter was adjourned to July 20. Magistrate Bruce Williams continued Mr Russell’s bail, which includes strict conditions that he not engage in any body modification work, not provide any medical services or training, report daily to police, surrender his passport and abide by a curfew.

Solicitor Damien Conn, for Mr Russell, indicated he would be making a bail variation application on the next occasion. 

Police say they launched Strike Force Nellievale after receiving a complaint from the alleged victim, who said she had engaged Mr Russell to perform a procedure at a business at Newcastle West in 2016. Police arrested Mr Russell at his home on May 1 this year before raiding his tattoo and body piercing studio at Erina. 

Two weeks before his arrest, the Health Care Complaints Commission took out an interim prohibition order against Mr Russell, banning him from providing any health or medical services for at least eight weeks.  

Since Mr Russell’s arrest, authorities have vowed to crack down on the body modification industry. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard labelled it “up there with the worst barbarism imaginable”. “This so-called body modification is just plain wacko and can lead to permanent maiming.”