Wigan tattoo artist put clients at 'likely risk' of serious disease

A Wigan tattoo artist has had his license suspended after squalid conditions were found at his back garden studio.

Stuart Swain had let his studio pile up with used needles, food waste, cigarette butts and dirty ink bottles, and did not even have hot or cold running water, a court was told.

Stuart Swain, pictured with Kym Marsh, enjoyed a successful career before letting his standards slide

Stuart Swain, pictured with Kym Marsh, enjoyed a successful career before letting his standards slide

And the problem was so bad that there was a “likely risk of infection” from serious diseases like hepatitis and HIV, to any customer who visited the popular artist for a tattoo.

The 47-year-old, of Ridyard Street, has over 20 years of experience in the trade, and was described as “a leading light in Wigan’s tattoo community” who had inked the likes of Corrie star Kym Marsh.

His license was suspended for six months at Wigan and Leigh Courthouse, after he pleaded guilty to half a dozen acts of wrongdoing related to having an unclean studio. Issues at the dad-of-four’s business first came to light in February 2018, when he was working from a purpose built studio in the back garden of his home in Buchanan Road.

Representing the council, Alison Henderson said an inspection found “filthy conditions” at the studio, including evidence of drinking while tattooing, used needles and an “overflowing” sharps bin. A second visit in May found stained walls and hair, litter and cigarette butts on the floor.

Tattoo equipment was set up and appeared ready for use, and there were used needles and an open tub of petroleum jelly (which is commonly used for tattoo aftercare).

Another inspection was carried out in June, and still there was no running water in the premises.

Miss Henderson said: “Tattooing is dangerous and involves breaking the skin, therefore skin infection would be likely.”

She added that there was a serious risk of transmittable infections such as hepatitis and a range of STIs.

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 saw him fail to keep up standards while turning to alcohol.

Swain, who revealed hopes of returning to his career in the near future, was handed a 12-month community order and a 26-week curfew between 7pm-7am.

He must undergo a six month alcohol treatment programme, a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement and pay £985 in costs.