A SELF-taught tattoo artist who practiced on pig skin has been fined for illegally practicing his trade.

A warning has gone out about the dangers and health risks associated with using unlicenced tattoo artists after the conviction of Joseph Vasarhelyi.

Vasarhelyi, 23 of Oakdene Avenue, Darlington, pleaded guilty this week of failing register as a tattooist with Darlington Borough Council, under the Local Government Misc Provisions Act 1982.

He also failed to comply with local council byelaws relating to tattooists. The byelaws govern a number of aspects of the trade including standards of hygiene and the age of clients.

The Council’s Environmental Health Team was called after a member of the public, who was concerned about Vasarhelyi and asked if he was registered.

Darlington Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday that Vasarhelyi:

* Was not registered with Darlington, or any other council.

* He had bought his equipment from internet suppliers.

* He was untrained and had taught himself practicing on pigskin.

* His knowledge of sterilisation procedures were rudimentary and not sufficient to operate the business safely.

Mr Vasarhelyi, who visited people in their own homes to carry out the tattoos, was fined £35 and ordered to pay £200 costs.

Chris McEwan, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “It is essential that any person who intends to carry out tattooing is registered with the council and complies with the byelaws. The purpose of the legislation is to protect the public and prevent the spread of infections such as HIV and Hepatitis.”