Wednesday, July 24, 2024

‘Eunuch maker’ ringleader who had freezer filled with body parts jailed for life

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The ringleader of a lucrative extreme body modification website that shared footage of castrations and amputations has been jailed for life.

Marius Gustavson and his acolytes carried out male castration, penis removal and other procedures on an unprecedented scale, the Old Bailey heard on Thursday.

The actions of Gustavson, 46, and six accomplices, who have also been imprisoned, amounted to “little more than human butchery” in some cases, said the sentencing judge.

On one occasion Gustavson cooked “what appeared to be human testicles which are then plated to be eaten”, Judge Mark Lucraft KC said.

Gustavson, of Haringey, north London, admitted charges including conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm. On Thursday Judge Lucraft sentenced him to life with a minimum term of 22 years.

A knife used by Damien Byrnes, 36, from Tottenham, north London, to remove the penis of Marius Gustavson

A knife used by Damien Byrnes, 36, from Tottenham, north London, to remove the penis of Marius Gustavson (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

Gustavson’s “Eunuch maker” pay-per-view website shared footage of people undergoing “dangerous, unnecessary and life-changing surgeries” carried out in people’s homes, a court was told – including male genitals being removed.

The Old Bailey heard the extreme body modification enterprise operated on an unprecedented scale with a 22,841 registered users and raked in almost £300,000 before it was shut down.

Before he was arrested, mastermind Gustavson was involved in at least 29 procedures between 2017 and 2021, requiring hospital treatment after having his penis and leg removed in one. After another of them, the court heard Gustavson cooked severed body parts, showing “clear evidence of cannibalism”.

He appeared for the third day of a sentencing hearing on Thursday alongside six other men who had all admitted their part in the wide-ranging conspiracy.

David Carruthers, 61, of Newport, Gwent, who was jailed at the Old Bailey in London, for 11 years

David Carruthers, 61, of Newport, Gwent, who was jailed at the Old Bailey in London, for 11 years (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

Among them were Peter Wates, a retired former member of the Royal Society of Chemists, and Janus Atkin, who had been completing a veterinary course, the court heard.

Passing sentence at the Old Bailey, Judge Lucraft said the defendants’ behaviour brought them sexual and financial gratification, while one victim said he was left with physical, emotional and psychological damage.

Addressing Gustavson, the judge said: “You are very much the mastermind behind this grisly and gruesome enterprise. The business you set up was both busy and lucrative.” However, he stated the others were “willing participants”.

Gustavson was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 22 years; Ion Ciucur, 30, of Gretna, Scotland, was sentenced to five years and eight months imprisonment; Wates, 66, of Purley, Surrey, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment; Stefan Scharf, 61, of no fixed address, was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment; David Carruthers, 61, of Newport, Gwent, was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment; Atkin, 38, of Newport, Gwent, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment; and Ashley Williams, 32, of Newport, Gwent, was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment.

Janus Atkin, 38, of Newport, Gwent, who had been completing a veterinary course, was jailed for 12 years at the Old Bailey in London

Janus Atkin, 38, of Newport, Gwent, who had been completing a veterinary course, was jailed for 12 years at the Old Bailey in London (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

The charges relate to 13 victims, the youngest of whom was 16 years-old.

The court heard Gustavson was driven towards the extreme subculture by a desire to be “the architect of his own body” after his 11-year marriage broke down in 2016.

“His modification led him to feelings of empowerment,” Rashvinderjeet Panesar, defending Gustavson, said. “It appears at face value to be something that’s become an addiction for him.”

The lawyer said Gustavson had been diagnosed with body identity integrity disorder, which accounted for his desire to have body parts removed.

Peter Wates, 67, of Purley, Surrey, a retired former member of the Royal Society of Chemists, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison at the Old Bailey in London

Peter Wates, 67, of Purley, Surrey, a retired former member of the Royal Society of Chemists, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison at the Old Bailey in London (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

Caroline Carberry KC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey the men were involved in a “lucrative business in the dangerous, unnecessary and life-changing surgeries carried out by non-medically qualified individuals – the nature and scale of which is without precedent”.

“All of these individuals were active in the extreme body modification or mutilation scene and the consensual or mutilation of male genitalia,” she added.

Procedures were filmed with “increasing professionalism” and made available on the website set up by Gustavson, which also advertised services including male castration, and offered varying levels of membership from “free” to £100 “VIP”.

“It is a remarkable feature of this case that the website was operating in plain sight – not on the dark web – accessible to anyone who stumbled upon it and had the inclination and means to pay to view the gruesome footage,” she said.

Stefan Scharf, 61, of no fixed address, who was sentenced to four and a half years in jail at the Old Bailey in London

Stefan Scharf, 61, of no fixed address, who was sentenced to four and a half years in jail at the Old Bailey in London (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

According to court documents, body parts were also put up for auction online with a “buy it now” button.

Images shown to the court revealed Gustavson’s freezer filled with body parts stored in plastic bags and takeaway containers.

Police officers also discovered Gustavson’s own penis in a drawer at his home following his arrest in 2021 – almost four years after it had been amputated.

“Gustavson wasn’t the only defendant to keep trophies from his surgeries,” she added.

Ashley Williams, 32, of Newport, Gwent, who was jailed at the Old Bailey in London, for four years, six months

Ashley Williams, 32, of Newport, Gwent, who was jailed at the Old Bailey in London, for four years, six months (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

Gustavson was arrested after he used a red hot iron to brand a man’s calf with the letters EM – for “Eunuch maker”. In a victim impact statement, the man who complained to police, described Gustavson as a “lunatic”.

Ms Carberry KC said the group used a “wide variety of tools” for their procedures including clamps used for “animal castration”.

Ms Carberry said Wates had been “in the business of purchasing body parts from Gustavson”.

During a police raid on the South Wales home of Carruthers, “testicles were found in a chest freezer”, the prosecutor said.

Ion Ciucur, 30, of Gretna, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, who received five years and eight months imprisonment at the Old Bailey in London

Ion Ciucur, 30, of Gretna, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, who received five years and eight months imprisonment at the Old Bailey in London (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

Ten men were arrested after police raids in London, Scotland and South Wales.

Gustavson pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit grievous bodily harm, five counts of grievous bodily harm with intent, one count of making an indecent photograph of a child, one count of distributing an indecent photograph of a child and possession of criminal property.

Ciucur, Wates, Scharf, Carruthers, Atkin and Williams all pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit grievous bodily harm.

In January, three men were sentenced after admitting causing grievous bodily harm to Gustavson.

Jacob Crimi-Appleby previously arriving at the Old Bailey in central London

Jacob Crimi-Appleby previously arriving at the Old Bailey in central London (PA)

Damien Byrnes, 36, from north London, was jailed for five years; Jacob Crimi-Appleby, 23, from Epsom in Surrey, was jailed for three years and eight months; and Nathan Arnold, 48, from South Kensington, London, received a two-year suspended sentence.

Kate Mulholland, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Marius Gustavson ignored the risks of performing unnecessary surgery on vulnerable men for sexual gratification and financial gain. He actively recruited participants through his website and was paid to stream the footage of these barbaric procedures.

“Whilst the victims in this case all seemingly consented to surgeries and amputations, the victim who bravely reported his assault to the police expressed serious regret regarding his procedure and the lasting impact it has had upon him. This clearly emphasises why such practices are unlawful.

“The severity of today’s sentence should act as a warning to others that performing extreme body modifications is against the law and the CPS won’t hesitate to prosecute these horrendous crimes.”

Detective Inspector Amanda Greig, from Scotland Yard, said: “I would like to highlight the excellent work of the Met’s investigation team, who have examined thousands of hours of horrific material seized from the suspects. Their diligence and professionalism have ensured no one else will suffer at the hands of these men.

“This lengthy and complex investigation demonstrates that we are determined to protect Londoners from harm and bring those that threaten the safety of our communities to justice.”

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