American 'body modifier' Howard Rollins is on trial for his alleged involvement in a woman's genital mutilation in NSW.
American 'body modifier' Howard Rollins is on trial for his alleged involvement in a woman's genital mutilation in NSW.

Man on trial over genital procedure

A touring international 'body modifier' denies being in the room during the alleged illegal genital mutilation of a woman at a NSW tattoo parlour.

American Howard Rollins, 42, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring NSW body piercer and modifier Brendon Leigh Russell to cut off part of a woman's genitals in January 2015.

Russell is due to face trial in September and will also face a manslaughter charge over an unrelated incident.

Rollins, who faces up to 21 years behind bars if found guilty, accepts the procedure occurred but denies being in the room at the time of the excision and knowing exactly what kind of procedure was to occur, his barrister told the NSW District Court.

"If he had anything to do with it, he was encouraging her to think about whether she wanted it - whatever it might be," Margaret Cunneen SC said.

"The defence case is that he made numerous efforts to report unlawful procedures in which Mr Russell was becoming involved in the period between this offence and when (the woman) had made a complaint to police (in 2018)."

Rollins, who is also known as Luna Cobra, is a self-described body modifier and has previously promoted his works, including eyeball tattooing.

Judge Ian Bourke, hearing the trial without a jury, was told the woman said she had the procedure to "look like a mermaid" and had previously received other body modifications including one from Rollins.

But the Crown argued the woman's consent to the genital procedure was not a defence to the alleged offence.

Crown prosecutor Georgia Turner expected the judge would hear Rollins instructed Russell to "cut and cauterise" part of the woman's genitals during the procedure.

After the woman yelled for Russell to stop due to pain, Rollins told her she didn't have to go through with it.

After she asked for more anaesthetic, Rollins instructed Russell "you need to wait until the (area) turns white before you start doing it again".

That statement was consistent with the injection of a mixture of the anaesthetic and adrenaline which can cause blood vessels to constrict and tissue to turn white, a medical expert is expected to tell the trial.

The procedure ended with the woman stitched up and handed the excised body part in a sterile bag, the Crown said.

After getting painkillers from a chemist, she visited a friend's home and went to the bathroom.

"She will describe - I expect - that it felt like razor blades," Ms Turner said.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, went to police in 2018, leading to Rollins' arrest later that year.

The trial resumes on Wednesday.

Originally published as US man on trial over NSW genital procedure


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