A WARNING has been issued over the use of unlicensed tattooists after a man was fined for creating illegal, unhygienic body art.

Jason Wilkinson, of Herbert Street, Darlington, appeared before magistrates in the town on Wednesday (July 2).

He admitted failing to protect the health and safety of clients when carrying out unregistered tattooing.

The case against him arose after former client Angela Lewis, who paid £30 for a tattoo of Roman numerals across her chest, complained about his work.

She had the tattoo done last year and cried when, after taking the bandages off a few days later, it did not look like she had hoped.

Ms Lewis, who turned to the back-street tattooist because she could not afford to pay full price, then approached a registered provider to obtain a quote for covering up the offending body art.

She was put off by the £200 asking price, but reported Wilkinson's unregistered practise to Darlington Borough Council.

Environmental health officers visited him at his home and it was revealed that he had neither applied for nor obtained a skin piercing registration for himself or his premises.

The court heard Ms Lewis alleged unsanitary conditions at the premises, including loose dogs in the room where the tattoo was applied and Wilkinson smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol during the work.

Wilkinson denied tattooing the complainant at his home, but agreed that he had provided numerous tattoos in the past.

He was fined £145, with £100 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.

Outstanding court fined are being deducted from his benefits and this fine will be consolidated with that.

Councillor Chris McEwan, the council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “The council’s enforcement officers will always take action to protect the health of the public.

"People need to be aware that all tattooists should operate from premises that are registered with the council.

"Enforcement officers work with the operators of these premises to protect human health.

"The council will take enforcement action against people who provide tattoos without first obtaining proper registration or those that are unable to demonstrate that they operate in a hygienic manner to minimise the risk of infection.”