Woman’s botched labia removal horror
An American body modifier has been found not guilty of assisting in a botched labia removal in a New South Wales tattoo parlour.
Howard Rollins, also known by his moniker Luna Cobra, was accused of giving advice and guidance during the consensual procedure in Newcastle in January 2015.
But Judge Ian Bourke on Tuesday said he couldn't be satisfied Rollins was in the room, knew all the facts and circumstances, and had issued instructions to the man excising the woman's labia.
"I must apply the presumption of innocence," the judge said in the Downing Centre District Court when explaining he could not discount inconsistencies in the woman's account and her possible motive to falsely incriminate him.
Rollins smiled but was otherwise calm on hearing the verdict.
The woman had told the 11-day trial that Rollins guided the other man through the operation, instructing him to "cut and cauterise" and to get more anaesthetic from a drawer when she screamed in pain.
Phone records showed Rollins, 42, had been in the tattoo parlour at some stage in the day.
Judge Bourke described the crown case as "fairly compelling" and the woman as "a reasonably compelling witness" due to her demeanour and detailed descriptions. But some inconsistencies left the judge with doubt.
He found she was affected by valium during the procedure, leaving her with gaps or defects in her memory of the events.
The woman was adamant she didn't smell her flesh being burned off but the judge sided with expert evidence that it would be hard to miss.
"(Rather than being untruthful) it seems to be more likely she has forgotten or she has no recollection due to anterograde amnesia of valium," Judge Bourke said.
Her exclusion from the body modification community in 2016 also provided her with a possible motive to falsely incriminate Rollins.
Rollins has nearly 50,000 followers on Instagram where he describes himself as the inventor of the eyeball tattoo.
There was no doubt he had an interest in surgical methods, Judge Bourke said.
But evidence Rollins had operated on or advertised about female genital modification was lacking.
One of Rollins' former clients, who has tattooed eyeballs and marks on either hand bearing the characters "O" and "X", told the court "Howie actually refused" to modify his genitals.
The court heard Rollins will pursue the state to cover his legal costs.
Originally published as Woman's botched labia removal horror