Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Body modifier planned to remove woman’s third molars after YouTube session, court told

By Brendan Day, Dental Tribune International
September 29, 2021

SYDNEY, Australia: In Australia, body modification practitioners are allowed to provide tattooing and body piercing services as long as they are properly licensed. Removing third molars, however, remains strictly in the domain of dentists. Last week, a Sydney court was told that Brendan Leigh Russell, a body modifier and tattoo artist, planned to remove a client’s third molars after watching a series of YouTube videos on the topic and only relented when a colleague advised him against it.

Russell is currently on trial in the District Court of New South Wales, where he has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, intentionally causing grievous bodily harm and genital mutilation relating to three procedures performed on different women between 2015 and 2017. On 20 September, a statement from barber Lawrence O’Neil—who worked out of Russell’s tattoo and body modification parlour at the time—was read out. According to The Guardian, the statement outlined how, when O’Neil asked Russell one morning what his plans were, Russell replied: “I’m doing dentistry”.

“Some chick asked to have her teeth pulled out. I have been up all night watching YouTube learning how to do it,” Russell added, according to O’Neil’s testimony. O’Neil then reportedly dissuaded Russell from conducting the procedure on the “nervous young girl”, the court heard.

O’Neil denied Russell’s suggestion that he had only agreed to “check on” her “inflamed” third molars.

“I think the wording of ‘check-up’ and ‘looking at them’ needs to be changed to ‘removal’,” he told the court when under cross-examination from Russell’s lawyer.

The manslaughter charge that Russell is facing relates to a client who died from septicaemia after he allegedly implanted a silicone snowflake under the skin on her hand. Subdermal implant procedures such as these exist in somewhat of a legal grey zone in Australia, since they are not technically illegal but are not generally covered by existing regulations governing the provision of tattoos and body piercings.

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