Warning: this story contains graphic and disturbing descriptions.
Two men have been jailed and a third given a suspended sentence after they cut off a man’s penis and filmed the mutilation for a pay-per-view website.
Damien Byrnes removed willing victim Marius Gustavson’s penis and testicles with a kitchen knife in February 2017, for a fee said initially to be £500, the Old Bailey had heard.
On Monday (15 January), 36-year-old Byrnes, along with Jacob Crimi-Appleby, 23, and Nathaniel Arnold, 48, were sentenced after earlier pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent.
Byrnes, an escort from Tottenham, in north London, was jailed for five years, while Crimi-Appleby, from Epsom, in Surrey, was sentenced to three years and eight months.
Crimi-Appleby froze Gustavson’s leg in dry ice, leading to it having to be amputated, while Arnold part-removed a nipple, using a disposable surgical blade, the BBC reported.
Arnold, from South Kensington, in West London, was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years and ordered to do 100 hours of community service. He also admitted stealing anaesthetic between 2016 and 2022 from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where he had worked, and possessing extreme pornography. He has been struck of the nursing register, Sky News said.
The court was previously told that the procedure carried out by Byrnes is linked to a subculture where people identify as “nullos”, short for genital nullification, after willingly undergoing the surgical removal of their genitalia.
Damien Byrnes removed Marius Gustavson’s penis and testicles with a kitchen knife. (Met Police)
When Byrnes did not receive payment, he threatened to go to the police. But Gustavson responded by saying he would report him for “threats, blackmail and cutting off my c**k”, according to LBC.
In February 2022, seven men were arrested in a north London flat after reports of castration procedures that were broadcast live online.
Prosecutor Caroline Carberry said Byrnes was hired by Gustavson, who called himself “the eunuch-maker” and had been involved in “numerous” extreme body-modification procedures including the removal of other men’s genitals.
He was among 10 people charged with taking part in extreme body modifications.
Gustavson, from Haringey, north London, previously admitted charges including conspiracy to commit GBH, and will be sentenced in March. Over a period of two years, he paid Byrnes more than £1,500, the court heard.
During the graphic video, which was not shown in court but described by Carberry, Byrnes could be heard saying: “Well, that’s one off the bucket list. I never expected that one.”
Carberry said that after Byrnes had left, Gustavson called 999 and was later treated in hospital, before being discharged with a referral for a psychiatric assessment.
Gustavson now has to use a wheelchair and has received about £18,000 in benefits payments since the incident.
Kate Mulholland, the Crown Prosecution Service specialist prosecutor for London, said: “Consent is not a defence to the illegal surgical procedures the men willingly took part in to remove their ringleader’s penis, leg and nipple, in non-sterile and on occasion life-threatening circumstances.”
Mitigating for Byrnes earlier, Lisa Bald said the case was so unusual that guidelines did not help in deciding the appropriate sentence. “Clearly the most unusual feature of this case is the concept of consent,” she told the court.
Byrnes had suffered trauma during his Catholic upbringing in Ireland that set him on a path to drug addiction and desperation and was “appalled and ashamed” by what he did, she added.
Appearing for Arnold, Neil Griffin, described his client as a compassionate, gentle, mild-mannered and respectful nurse who committed the offence in the grip of “hypermania” while suffering from a bipolar disorder.
“He is most unlikely ever again to engage in fantasies and the behaviour that he was prone to four years ago,” Griffin added.
Detective inspector Amanda Greig, from the Met’s Specialist Crime unit, described the investigation as “extremely challenging due to the complexity of the offences”.
She went on to say: “There was an immense volume of horrific material which my team had to view in order to identify the victim and offenders.”
The Met had now identified a network of men, spanning the UK and overseas, who take part in such illegal operations, she revealed.
“I would like to encourage anyone who has had similar experiences to seek medical advice from their GP and contact us via Crimestoppers (0800 555 111) quoting Operation Vicktor. You can also contact LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop on 0800 999 5428.”