Tattooist and body modifier 'Dr Evil', who pleaded guilty last month to three counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, has been sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court today and is going to jail. Brendan McCarthy, 50, was given 40 months per offence to run concurrently – half will be served in prison and half out on licence.
McCarthy was prosecuted after removing a customer’s nipple and ear and carrying out tongue-splitting, despite the victims giving consent.
An earlier hearing at the Court of Appeal clarified existing laws that those who cause more than minor injury to others in these circumstances cannot avail themselves of the defence of consent.
Wolverhampton City Council EHPs and West Midlands Police both carried out investigations into McCarthy’s activities. And EHPs issued a prohibition notice on 14 December 2016 and police charged him in January 2017.
Steve Evans, Cabinet Member for City Environment at City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “Today, we have exposed a national issue which requires a national regulation to be introduced to protect members of the public against the risks of extreme body modification.
“Cosmetic surgery requires a high level of legislation and we have asked national government to address these extreme practises that are being increasingly being requested the public.”
Before the sentencing, consultant plastic surgeon David Gateley of DRG Plastic Surgery in Harley Street has clarified some of the issues raised. He said: “In this recent case, the law has ruled that extreme body modification procedures fall under the category of grievous bodily harm, and cannot be justified by patient consent.
“In physical terms, it may seem that there is no real difference between a plastic surgeon removing the breasts of a transgender patient and ‘Dr Evil’ removing an ear, but the context is totally different.
“Plastic surgeons are regulated, and so any surgery undertaken is done so by qualified practitioners, in a sterile environment with the appropriate facilities should anything go wrong during the procedure. The key difference is regulation, and this protects patients.
“Anyone could actually get the equipment to remove a limb or insert a breast implant, but it is only lawful surgery if it is done in a regulated context - otherwise it seems accurate to describe it as GBH.
“The issue of consent is not as clear cut as it may seem and falls under the same umbrella of patient protection. Those individuals seeking body modification should be psychologically supported prior to their procedures with practitioners fully aware and respectful of the mental health considerations – both in terms of eligibility for procedures, patient expectations and post-operative care.
“It is not about whether the patient complies but whether their compliance has a healthy basis. The plastic surgery industry as a whole should integrate psychological support more seamlessly into its procedures for patients, and this should apply whatever the procedure is.”