Man behind ‘grisly and gruesome enterprise’ that carried out castrations jailed

UK

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
Image:
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
Image:
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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