“Dr Evil” body modifier admits wounding clients in landmark case
A tattoo artist who performed illegal body modification procedures including ear removal, nipple removal, and tongue splitting has been convicted of three counts of grievous bodily harm following a landmark West Midlands Police case.
Brendan McCarthy – aka Dr Evil – is a registered tattooist who opened a studio in Princess Alley, Wolverhampton, in December 2014.
But the 50-year-old also carried out extreme body modification procedures despite having no medical qualifications and not being registered with the General Medical Council.
West Midlands Police launched an investigation in July 2015 following an anonymous complaint made to Wolverhampton Council’s Environmental Health Department about his practices.
It led investigators to trace a 39-year-old man, from Walsall, for who McCarthy had removed his right ear and partially removed his left ear.
Searches of his work studio uncovered out-of-date pre-injection swabs, anaesthetic gel, stitching thread and needles – some of which were years past their ‘use before’ dates – plus several bottles of prescription-only adrenalin and lidocaine.
McCarthy was arrested in December 2015 on suspicion of assault and again in October 2016 for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
He applied to the Court of Appeal in February last year to have the charges against him dropped on the basis the procedures were undertaken with clients’ consent.
But appeal judges dismissed his claim saying “it was not in the public interest for anyone to wound or cause actual bodily harm for no good reason and, in the absence of such a reason, the victim’s consent afforded no defence”.
And at Wolverhampton Crown Court today (12 Feb) McCarthy admitted three counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm – the ear removal plus one nipple removal and tongue splitting – and he is set to be sentenced on 21 March.
Detective Inspector Chris Fox from West Midlands Police’s Complex Investigation Unit, said: “We launched an enquiry as soon as we were alerted to concerns over McCarthy’s practices. We found he was performing complex procedures without medical training, outside of a clinical environment, without knowledge of his clients’ medical history or psychiatric background.
“He performed these significant and intrusive procedures in un-sterile locations and without life-saving equipment – and it was important to take action in order to protect the public.
“A consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon provided expert opinion that there were significant complications associated with the removal of someone’s ear and that such a procedure should only ever be carried out by medical experts in a hospital.
“We also had concerns McCarthy was potentially carrying out procedures on people with psychiatric conditions like Body Dysmorphic Disorder without conducting any mental health assessments in advance.”
A consultant plastic surgeon also provided expert opinion stating they would never conduct procedures like ear or nipple removal or tongue splitting for aesthetic reasons alone.
Rhiannon Jones from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This has been a complex and challenging case; I would like to thank the prosecution team for their hard work and commitment in helping us to secure this conviction.
“This case confirms and clarifies the existing law that those who cause more than minor injury to others in these circumstances cannot avail themselves of the defence of consent.
“There are obvious dangers in medically unqualified persons performing what are in essence surgical procedures upon those who may be unaware of the risks and consequences to their health.
“Body modification has grown in popularity over recent years and we hope that this decision reaches a wide audience so that the legal status of those who perform these procedures can no longer be in any doubt.”