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The mastermind behind an extreme body modification ring that carried out “grizzly and gruesome” procedures including castrations has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years.

Warning: The following article contains graphic details of extreme physical mutilation

Marius Gustavson, 46, ran a “lucrative business” sharing images of “dangerous, unnecessary and life-changing surgeries” carried out by people with no medical qualifications, the Old Bailey heard.

The Norwegian national made almost £300,000 through his open website “eunuchmaker.com”, which amassed 22,841 users as it became increasingly professional.

He advertised his services, such as male castration, penis removal and freezing of limbs, while customers paid to view footage of the procedures or could take out a £100-a-year subscription.

“Arch-manipulator” Gustavson had his own penis cut off, the tip of his nipple removed, and his leg frozen so that it had to be amputated, and recruited like-minded individuals to assist him, the court heard.

Gustavson, who claimed £18,500 in disability benefits after losing his leg and now uses a wheelchair, appeared in court for sentencing by video-link from HMP Wandsworth.

The Old Bailey was told body parts, including testicles, were kept in takeaway tubs in his freezer, while Gustavson’s own penis was found in a drawer in his home almost four years after it was amputated.

The judge said the activity would appear to many to be “at least disgusting and abhorrent”.

He said the procedures, some of which were carried out with knives or surgical scalpels, were “grave and life-threatening matters” with “permanent and irreversible” results.

“Many of them may require extensive medical and other assistance for the rest of their lives.”

An image of body parts kept in his freezer was “no doubt what you would regard as the trophies of your acts of carrying out extreme body modifications”, he told Gustavson.

“You are very much the mastermind behind this grizzly and gruesome enterprise,” he said.

“The motivations of all were a mix of sexual gratification as well as financial reward.”

‘Clear evidence of cannibalism’

Prosecutor Caroline Carberry KC said he sold body parts, while there “was clear evidence of cannibalism” in the case and images found on Gustavson’s phone from 22 June 2018 show “he cooked some testicles for lunch”.

“The images, from raw ingredients to an artfully arranged salad platter, were discovered by officers,” she said.

Gustavson, who was said to have been involved in almost 30 procedures, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm (GBH) between 2016 and 2022.

He also admitted five more counts of causing GBH with intent, making an indecent image of a child, possessing criminal property, possessing extreme pornographic images and three counts of distributing indecent pseudo-photographs of a child.

‘Cult-like atmosphere’

Nine other men have admitted their involvement with Gustavson’s ring after one victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, went to police after feeling he was “tricked” into a procedure while under the influence of drugs.

knife used by Damien Byrnes
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A knife used in some of the procedures. Pic: Metropolitan Police

He said in a victim impact statement Gustavson created a “cult-like atmosphere” around him, which was “captivating and mesmerising” and “his veneer of respectability was a masterstroke”.

The prosecutor said the “nature and scale” of the procedures “is without precedent”.

One victim was branded with EM – eunuch maker – while a dice game was played to decide what body parts would be removed from another.

‘Human butchery’

Some required emergency medical treatment following procedures described by the judge as “little short of human butchery”.

They were carried out at Gustavson’s home in north London, rented apartments or hotels, and the victims, including a 16-year-old boy, were promised money from the video revenue, the court heard.

Prosecutors said many of the men who underwent procedures consented to them, while all of those charged were motivated by the sexual element of the offences and financial gain.

Wanted to be ‘architect of own body’

Rashvinderjeet Panesar, defending Gustavson, said his “desire to be the architect of his own body” began during puberty before the recognition of body integrity dysphoria but the modifications were triggered by the end of his marriage in 2016.

The procedures gave him “feelings of empowerment and greater acceptance of himself” and he wanted to help others stuck in a body they wanted to make changes to and “wished to put a smile on other people’s faces,” he said.

The barrister compared the practice to transgender operations but with “people who want to be known as ‘nullos’ or of neutral gender” and in circumstances “where legal medical procedures haven’t caught up”.

Mr Panesar said that what may be seen in the courtroom as “depraved, dangerous, and unnecessary is the cost of happiness for others”.

Jacob Crimi-Appleby, Damien Byrnes and Nathan Arnold
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Jacob Crimi-Appleby, Damien Byrnes and Nathan Arnold

Former NHS domestic assistant David Carruthers, 61, Janus Atkin, 39 – who had studied to be a vet – retired chemist Peter Wates, 67 and Romanian national Ion Ciucur, 30, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit GBH between 2016 and 2022.

They were jailed for 11 years, 12 years, 12 years, and five years and eight months respectively

Carruthers’ partner Ashley Williams, 32, and German Stefan Scharf, 61, also pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent and were each jailed for four and a half years.

They will all serve two thirds before being released on licence.

Jacob Crimi-Appleby, 23, Damien Byrnes, 36, and Nathaniel Arnold, 48, have already been sentenced – to three years and eight months, five years, and two years suspended respectively – all having pleaded guilty to GBH.

Crown Prosecution Service specialist prosecutor Kate Mulholland 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.”

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‘I was told this was a wonder drug but not warned about the deathly consequences’: 100 faces of infected blood scandal

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'I was told this was a wonder drug but not warned about the deathly consequences': 100 faces of infected blood scandal

“Losing Gary, my soul mate, was beyond painful,” says Kathryn Croucher, whose husband died aged 42 in 2010.

“Every day was a struggle dealing with the knowledge he was HIV and Hepatitis C positive.”

“Mum always said she was given a death sentence,” recalls Ronan Fitzgerald. His mother, Jane, died aged 54 after being infected with Hepatitis C when she was 16. “It was a ticking time bomb.”

Updates:
Scandal was ‘not an accident’
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The faces of the infected blood scandal.

More than 30,000 Britons were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Around 3,000 people have died as a result of the scandal, while many more still live under the shadow of health problems, debilitating treatments and stigma. Now, the findings of a public inquiry, first announced in 2017, will finally be published.

These are 100 faces of infected blood victims that either they, or their families, have shared with Sky News.

Click the images to read their stories.

Sky News will have full coverage of the infected blood report on TV, online and on the Sky News app today.

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Sky News would like to thank everyone who contributed to this project.

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Julian Assange wins High Court bid to bring appeal against extradition to US

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Julian Assange wins High Court bid to bring appeal against extradition to US

Julian Assange will be allowed to appeal against his extradition to the United States.

Two judges responded today to US assurances that Mr Assange will not face the death penalty – and can rely on the First Amendment right to free speech if he faced a trial for spying.

The WikiLeaks founder faces prosecution in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information after the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017. Pic: Reuters
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017. Pic: Reuters

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a police van after being arrested in London in 2019. Pic: Reuters
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a police van after being arrested in London in 2019. Pic: Reuters

Edward Fitzgerald KC, representing Assange, criticised the assurances of Joe Biden’s US administration at the hearing. He said: “Based on the principle of the separation of powers, the US court can and will apply US law, whatever the executive may say or do.”

He added most of the promises were “blatantly inadequate” – but they had accepted the promise about the death penalty.

In written submissions, the barrister said while the assurance over the death penalty was “an unambiguous executive promise”, the other assurance does not give “any reliable promise as to future action”.

The barrister added: “What needs to be conclusively removed is the risk that he will be prevented from relying on the first amendment on grounds of nationality.”

But James Lewis KC, representing the US government, insisted the “judicial branch of the United States will take due notice of this solemn assurance given by its government in the course of international relations”.

In written submissions, he said there is “no question” that Assange, if extradited, “will be entitled to the full panoply of due process trial rights, including the right to raise, and seek to rely upon, the first amendment as a defence”.

He later told the court: “The assurance does make it clear that he will not be discriminated against because of his nationality.

“He can and will be able to raise all those arguments and his nationality will not prejudice a fair trial.”

Today’s decision is the latest chapter in 13 years of legal battles and detentions for Australian-born Mr Assange.

A woman attends a protest outside the High Court on the day of an extradition hearing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in London, Britain, May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska
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Supporters of Mr Assange have been gathering outside the High Court. Pic: Reuters

A police officers looks on near a placard outside of the Royal Court of Justice.
Pic: Reuters
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Pic: Reuters

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The US authorities want to put Mr Assange on trial over 18 charges, nearly all under the Espionage Act.

They claim his actions with WikiLeaks were reckless, damaged national security, and endangered the lives of agents.

During a two-day hearing in February, lawyers for Mr Assange asked for permission to challenge a judge’s dismissal of the majority of his case to prevent his extradition.

In March, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson dismissed most of Mr Assange’s legal arguments – but said unless assurances were given by the US, he would be able to bring an appeal on three grounds.

These assurances are that Assange would be protected by and allowed to rely on the First Amendment – which protects freedom of speech in the US – that he is not “prejudiced at trial” due to his nationality, and that the death penalty is not imposed.

People attend a protest outside the High Court 
Pic: Reuters
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Pic: Reuters

People attend a protest outside the High Court
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Pic: Reuters

Supporters of Mr Assange have already been gathering outside the High Court to continue their calls for his release.

Mr Assange is currently being held in London’s high security Belmarsh prison.

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Hunt for two suspects after man dies in Glasgow stabbing

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Hunt for two suspects after man dies in Glasgow stabbing

Detectives are on the hunt for two men following a fatal stabbing in Glasgow at the weekend.

Police Scotland said the force received a report of a man being attacked and stabbed in Saracen Street, Possil, at around 5pm on Saturday.

Emergency services attended and took the 27-year-old victim to the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where he later died.

The death is being treated as “suspicious” ahead of the completion of a post-mortem examination.

Investigating officers have since established that two men were involved in the attack.

The suspects have been described as white and in their 30s.

One was wearing a light-blue top and black shorts, while the other was dressed in a white top, black shorts and black trainers.

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Officers have been gathering and reviewing CCTV footage from in and around the neighbourhood as the probe continues.

Additional patrols have also been mobilised to the area, and anyone with information or concerns can approach these officers.

Read more from Sky News:
The stories behind 100 victims of infected blood scandal
Probe launched after man dies in police custody

Detective Inspector Lesley-Ann McGee said: “It was a warm, sunny day and there were lots of people out enjoying the weather in Saracen.

“I am asking them to get in touch with us with any information that could assist us in establishing the motive for this attack. If you saw, heard or know anything please contact us.

“I’m also asking people with dashcam or doorbell recording equipment to check for any footage that could assist our investigation.

“A family is mourning the loss of a loved one and it’s imperative we are able to answer how their loved one died.”

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