A DODGY tattoo artist who practised on young girls at a seedy makeshift parlour in his Paisley home has left them all suffering an agonising wait to find out if they have caught a potentially-fatal disease.
Paisley Sheriff Court heard that Jamie Drew took money from girls as young as 12 in return for giving them tattoos at his flat in Fulbar Road after they had used the Facebook social networking site to contact each other.
However, 21-year-old Drew – who was sporting a shocking-pink hairstyle when he arrived at court yesterday – had no professional training or qualifications.
Now the girls who were involved are having to go to hospital regularly for a year-long course of injections amid fears they may have caught the hepatitis B virus.
Depute fiscal Lesley MacNeil told the court that self-styled ink artist Drew had been paid by a 12-year-old girl, two others who were 13 and a fourth, who was 15.
His solicitor, Tom Williamson, said his client flatly denied that he had charged the girls for the tattoos.
The 12-year-old girl and her 13-year-old school pal went to Drew’s flat on May 26, where the younger of the two was told to lie on a bed.
She then moved her clothing to expose her left hip, where he tattooed a treble clef.
Ms MacNeil said that, although the accused had worn gloves and had been seen to wipe the needles on each occasion, it could not be confirmed if they had been properly sterilised.
The second girl also lay on the bed before being tattooed on her lower stomach, at hip level, with the words ‘Love is forever’ beside a pink heart.
The court was told Drew had been paid £30 for doing the tattoos.
After the girls told their friends what they had done, the other 13-year-old and a 15-year-old pal made contact with Drew, who agreed to tattoo them as well.
The fiscal said that, on each occasion, the girls involved had revealed their ages to the accused.
The 15-year-old sat on the edge of a bed as Drew tattooed ‘Mum’ on her shoulder, alongside a heart shape.
Her younger friend then lay on the bed and exposed her lower stomach to allow Drew to tattoo the words ‘Daddy’s little girl’ as she lay there.
Ms MacNeil said Drew was paid £25 for carrying out that work.
The alarm was raised on June 6 when a mother of one of the girls saw her daughter’s tattoo.
She was provided with the names of the others involved and their parents were also alerted.
Ms MacNeil said that, as it was not known if the needles had been properly sterilised, all of the girls had gone to Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital to begin a year-long course of injections for hepatitis B.
When police interviewed Drew and arrested him, he claimed he no longer had the tattoo gun.
Mr Williamson said his client had an interest in tattooing and, when he was given the gun and needles in sealed packs, he decided to expand his expertise by practising on the girls after one of them made contact with his girlfriend via Facebook.
The lawyer added that his client had wiped the needles on each occasion with a watered-down Dettol solution.
Drew insisted he had not known the girls’ ages but accepted it was obvious they were under 18.
The court heard that he now accepted he had acted recklessly.
Sheriff Colin McKay said that, in 25 years on the bench, it was the first time he had encountered a prosecution under the Tattooing of Minors Act of 1969.
As the Crown had prosecuted Drew in that way, the maximum sentence that could be imposed was a fine of £1,000.
Sheriff McKay told Drew that, as he was unemployed and had limited income, he was prepared to restrict the penalty to £500 and, due to his early guilty plea, that would be reduced to £350, to be paid at £10 per fortnight.
Drew told the court he will not be carrying out any more tattooing in the future, having handed the kit back to the person who gave it to him.