Man said cutting off body modification leader’s genitals was ‘one off the bucket list’, court hears

Damien Byrnes, 36, from Tottenham, admitted removing Marius Gustavson’s genitals with a knife

Emily Pennink
Friday 12 January 2024 17:03 GMT
Marius Gustavson, 45, is allegedly the ringleader of a complex conspiracy which centred around his website.
Marius Gustavson, 45, is allegedly the ringleader of a complex conspiracy which centred around his website. (Supplied)

Warning: Graphic content throughout

An escort cut off the penis of the ringleader of an extreme body modifications group on film, saying: “Well, that’s one off the bucket list”, a court has heard.

Damien Byrnes, 36, from Tottenham, north London, admitted removing Marius Gustavson’s penis with a knife on 18 February 2017.

He and two other men appeared for sentencing at the Old Bailey on Friday, having pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Gustavson.

Prosecutor Caroline Carberry KC said the defendants were among 10 people charged with taking part in extreme body modifications.

Gustavson, 46, had been involved in “numerous” extreme procedures including the removal of male genitals, with films featuring on a pay-per-view “eunuch maker” website.

After cutting off Gustavson’s penis, Byrnes had asked for a copy of the film and was heard to say: “Well that’s one off the bucket list. I never expected that one.”

Ms Carberry said messages between the men spanning four years had been found on Gustavson’s mobile phone.

Byrnes, who was listed under Daniel Escort Irish, had originally been hired by Gustavson for sexual services and introduced to the “eunach maker” website, the court was told.

In December 2016, Byrnes “readily agreed” to mutilate Gustavson for £500 knowing it would be filmed for the money-making site, Ms Carberry said.

He told Gustavson: “I have no issue with it but won’t you loose (sic) a lot of blood, like nearly die.”

Gustavson went on to tell him he would be anesthetised and tied down and instructed him on what to do.

Byrnes said he was “actually kinda turned on a bit” but sought assurances because he did not want to get in “trouble”.

When Gustavson reduced his financial offer, Byrnes appeared to cry off, saying: “I’ve had enough man. I’m cutting your c**k and balls off for 50 shitty quid when I was led to believe it’s 500.”

Two days before the procedure, Gustavson told Byrnes that he was cutting another person and that he could be a “sexy, kinky helper”.

Gustavson went on to boast that he had “done over 26 guys in total, 18 totally done”.

Graphic film of the mutilation of Gustavson was not shown in court but what it showed was described by Ms Carberry.

In the footage, a shaking Gustavson was strapped down to a bed naked and heard to say “no, no”.

The prosecutor suggested the apparent fear may have been part of an “act” for the film.

Afterwards, Gustavson called 999 and told the operator: “I tried to do some surgery on my c**k”, the court was told.

He was treated in hospital and discharged after a couple of days and referred to a psychiatric unit for assessment.

Ms Carberry told the court that it had been a “life-threatening procedure”.

When Byrnes did not receive payment, he threatened to go to the police.

Gustavson responded by saying he would report him for “threats, blackmail and cutting off my c**k”.

Over two years, financial records showed Gustavson had paid Byrnes sums totalling more than £1,500, the court was told.

Following his arrest in 2022, Byrnes admitted what he had done, saying he was in financial difficulty and had thrown up on the way home afterwards.

Co-defendant Jacob Crimi-Appleby, 23, from Epsom in Surrey, admitted freezing Gustavson’s leg, leading to the need for it to be amputated in February 2019.

Jacob Crimi-Appleby admitted freezing Gustavson’s leg, leading to the need for it to be amputated (PA)

Nurse Nathan Arnold, 48, from South Kensington, west London, admitted the partial removal of Gustavson’s nipple in the summer of 2019.

He also admitted to stealing anaesthetic between 2016 and 2022 from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where he had worked and also possessing extreme pornography.

Gustavson, of Haringey, north London, has previously admitted charges including a conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm and will be sentenced with others on 4 and 5 March.

Ms Carberry said his “eunach maker” website had been a “lucrative” activity.

Even though Gustavson had “consented and encouraged” the defendants to participate, text messages between them demonstrated that they were “willing participants”, she said.

The harm caused by the removal of Gustavson’s penis and leg was “so serious and so severe and life threatening” that hospital treatment was required to “put things right”, the prosecutor said.

Mitigating for Byrnes, Lisa Bald argued the case was so unusual that guidelines did not help in deciding the appropriate sentence.

She said: “Clearly the most unusual feature of this case is the concept of consent.”

Byrnes had suffered trauma during his Catholic upbringing in Ireland that set him on a path to drug addiction and desperation, she said.

Ms Bald added that he was “appalled and ashamed” by what he did in 2017.

Byrnes wept in court as his barrister said his mother was suffering from terminal cancer and appealed for a non-custodial sentence.

Mitigating for Arnold, Neil Griffin, described him as a compassionate, gentle, mild mannered and respectful nurse.

He committed the offences while in the grip of “hypermania” while suffering from a bipolar disorder.

Mr Griffin said: “He is most unlikely ever again to engage in fantasies and the behaviour that he was prone to four years ago.”

Judge Mark Lucraft KC adjourned the sentencing until Monday, telling the defendants that his “mind was not made up” on whether to hand them jail terms.

He said: “This case is unique. It is quite unlike any other case I have dealt with.”

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