Russell 'downplayed' infection pre-death

·3-min read

When one of his so-called groupies called in distress, body modifier Brendan Russell played down her concerns and reeled out a well-worn phrase.

"It's not infected, it's just irritated," he said, a witness told Russell's Sydney trial on Tuesday.

Prosecutors allege "it" - the woman's hand where a plastic implant had been recently inserted - was in fact so infected, it led to her death by septicaemia hours after her final phone call to Russell in April 2017.

The District Court, where Russell is defending a manslaughter charge, heard from a regular of the body modifier's studio on Tuesday.

She painted a picture of a smooth-talking, confident Russell hellbent on convincing customers to submit to experimental procedures.

"He was definitely taking on way too much, he didn't know a lot of the things," the regular, who cannot be identified, said on Tuesday.

"He would always try to talk people into things ... he'd have so much hype about it."

The witness recalled one person seeking scarification and being told by Russell: "That's boring - let's cut your ears off and give you bulldog ears."

She never heard Russell, now 40, initiate a discussion about infection risks and recalled how he would "muck around doing procedures", squirting anaesthetic or taking photos with implants half in.

Sometimes, when a wound was "irritated", Russell would extract a "yellow fluid" in a syringe, she said.

"We'd have to have these big conversations - literal interventions, he'd get so angry and say he knew what he was doing," the witness said.

She spoke of the body modifier's use of Google to learn new procedures, echoing evidence by a former colleague on Monday about Russell's aborted plan to perform wisdom teeth extractions from YouTube videos.

Russell's lawyer has suggested his client sought only to do a dental "checkup".

Judge Helen Syme has heard the deceased woman held Russell in the highest esteem and never said a bad word about him.

"She mentioned on a number of occasions that he's world-class, we were lucky to have him in the area," the woman's GP, Quinten Willemse, said on Tuesday.

"Groupie" was the term the regular used for the deceased woman.

The final phone call in 2017 followed several consultations with Russell after implant surgery was performed in his Transitions studio in Erina Fair shopping centre.

The Transitions regular, who overheard both sides of the call, said the woman sounded concerned, uncertain and "really groggy".

She said "I think I have a really bad infection", leading to Russell's well-worn line and advice to take some ibuprofen.

"It will be fine - come see me in the morning," Russell replied, the witness said.

Russell learned of the death the next morning when a neighbour, alerted by a child that found the woman's body, called the last number dialled by the deceased woman.

"He was really worried. (He said) 'What if it comes out it was something I did?'," the witness said.

Russell, known by the moniker Bslice Dot Com, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter after implanting a plastic snowflake in the deceased woman's hand weeks before her April 2017 death.

He has also pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from body modifications on two other women in 2015 and 2016.

One charge - female genital mutilation - relates to a labia reduction performed on a regular customer in 2015.

The other - intentionally causing grievous bodily harm - relates to a mother who sought a "tummy tuck" in 2016 and later needed several surgeries in hospital.

The trial, being heard without a jury, continues.

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