When her two children got haircuts at a barbershop in a mall, a young mother’s complaint about the size of her tummy caught Brendan Leigh Russell’s attention.
The store’s modified body body reportedly offered to help with a “tummy tuck.”
“Brendan said he had done it before … (he) said pretty much it was a pretty easy procedure,” the mother told Sydney District Court on Monday.
But the allegedly unqualified Russell is now accused of making the woman bleed profusely, writhing in “extreme pain” and needing significant medical intervention to correct her work.
The 40-year-old has pleaded not guilty to intentionally causing serious bodily harm to the back of his Transition store in the Erina Fair Shopping Center in November 2016.
He has also denied charges of manslaughter and genital mutilation related to two other women he operated on in 2015 and 2017.
Judge Helen Syme, who heard the trial without a jury, has suppressed the identities of all three complainants.
The judge was told Monday that the tummy tuck was performed under local anesthesia for $ 800.
Russell had previously dampened the mother’s fears of staying awake, boasting of his “quite … good reputation” and how a surgeon had noticed that his use of anesthetics was “fantastic”, the complainant said.
The body modifier put on gloves but no surgical mask or gown before cutting into the woman’s abdomen, removing a skin strip of about 20 cm and suturing the wound.
His finishing instructions? Rest up, let Advill (ibuprofen) return in about a week to have sutures removed, according to the woman.
At home on the couch, she took Nurofen – another ibuprofen brand – as well as some diazepam and tried to sleep.
“I just woke up in extreme pain … (my husband) was looking at my nightgown and there was fresh blood everywhere, the lounge was covered in blood,” she said Monday.
She later stumbled and collapsed on the floor, causing her and her husband to panic.
“He called Brendan. The only thing I remember is (my husband) that there is blood everywhere,” she said.
Through her husband, Russell allegedly advised that treatment with Nurofen was discontinued, Advill was started, and the compression compound was removed.
“It was just bleeding from the wound, my bandages were full of blood,” she said.
Russell removed some stitches by a follow-up appointment, applied steri-strips and put the significant bleeding down to “the way your body heals”.
On the advice of friends and a GP, the woman reluctantly went to Gosford Hospital, where she was booked for surgery and stayed two nights.
Further corrective surgery resolved her pain and mobility problems, but left a long, thin scar that stretched from hip to hip, the court was told.
Despite the problems, the woman refused to give up Russell’s name until in 2018 she saw media reports that he had been accused of mutilating a customer’s genitals with a branding iron.
“She was being destroyed on social media and I felt sorry for her,” the mother said.
“I felt that if someone else stood up too, people might realize that these things are happening.”
Russell’s lawyer is due to cross-examine the woman on Tuesday.