A tattoo artist who was working in a filthy studio with a host of contamination and safety risks will be sentenced in the new year.
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard Stuart Swain pleaded guilty to half a dozen offences related to bylaws about premises where people can get inked and health and safety legislation.
The 47-year-old, of Ridyard Street in Worsley Hall, was not in court but sent an emotional letter in which he admitted wrongdoing and apologised for putting people who had visited his business in harm’s way.
Magistrates heard shocking details that when council employees checked on Ridyard’s business there was no running water on the premises and the sink was dirty.
Needles used in treatments were not placed in the separate reusable boxes required and there were contamination risks because the disposal ink pots were not stored adequately.
The internal walls, doors and floors were not kept clean enough and litter had not been tidied up, while bins were not emptied or bags changed on a daily basis.
Furniture and fittings in the treatment area were also not clean or in good repair when officers visited on May 18.
Swain also pleaded guilty to not complying with a prohibition notice under the Health and Safety at Work Act which ordered him to get the place into a proper state within a month.
In his letter to the court Swain said he had been a respected tattoo artist for years, having originally been registered in 1998, and had always been able to comply with the requirements Wigan Council sets the industry.
However, in recent years he outlined struggles with mental health and personal problems which had caused him to spiral downhill and fail to keep up standards while turning to alcohol.
The matter was brought to court as a private prosecution, with Wigan Council solicitor Alison Henderson acting for the local authority.
Swain wrote in his letter: “I am embarrassed at the state of my shop. It’s only now I have seen the photos I realise how unacceptable it was.
“I realise what I’ve done was wrong and very dangerous. Over the years I have always taken safety seriously and my sincerest apologies to anyone I have put in danger.
“If I open up another premises I will happily comply as I don’t want to risk infection.”
Swain said he had no running water because a pipe had burst and he had no money to fix it and he had not complied with the notice to improve things because he was worried about being evicted from his home at the time.
The council had given him a month to get the studio in shape after its first visit uncovered the litany of problems.
Swain said he was no longer tattooing and offered to go on safety courses at his own expense in order to re-enter the sector in the future.
He also apologised for not turning up to hear the case, saying he was suffering from depression and anxiety.
Swain was found guilty of all six charges in his absence and a sentencing hearing will now be held on January 8.