The tattooist who called himself ‘Dr Evil’ has admitted causing grievous bodily harm to three customers by carrying out a tongue-splitting procedure and removing an ear and a nipple.
Brendan McCarthy, who ran Dr Evil’s Body Modification Emporium in Wolverhampton, changed his pleas to guilty on Tuesday after a two-year legal saga in which he unsuccessfully claimed the consent of his customers provided him with a lawful defense.
The 50-year-old, from Bushbury, Wolverhampton, who was bailed to appear for sentencing on March 21, carried out an ear removal at his studio in 2015 without using anaesthetic, three years after he split a woman’s tongue with a scalpel and removed a third customer’s nipple
Judge Amjad Nawaz ruled that the registered tattooist could not use his clients’ written permission as a defence after considering precedent set by previous prosecutions, including one in which a husband branded his wife’s buttocks with a hot knife.
McCarthy then took his case to the Court of Appeal, contending that the procedures should be regarded as lawful to protect the “personal autonomy” of his customers.
In their 12-page ruling, the appeal court judges – who noted that McCarthy had divided a customer’s tongue “to produce an effect similar to that enjoyed by reptiles” – said the procedures were not comparable to tattoos and piercings.
Although they accepted evidence that the ear removal had been done quite well, the judges said it was not in the public interest that a person could wound another for no good reason.
“There is, to our minds, no proper analogy between body modification, which involves the removal of parts of the body or mutilation as seen in tongue-splitting, and tattooing, piercing or other body adornment.
“What the defendant undertook for reward in this case was a series of medical procedures for no medical reason.
“Those seeking body modification of the sort we are concerned with in this appeal invited the appellant to perform irreversible surgery without anaesthetic with profound long-term consequences.
“The fact that a desire to have an ear or nipple removed or tongue split is incomprehensible to most, may not be sufficient in itself to raise the question whether those who seek to do so might be in need of a mental health assessment.
“The personal autonomy of his customers does not provide the appellant with a justification for removing body modification from the ambit of the law of assault.”
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