Radio star has no regrets over skinhead tattoo

By Abby Gillies

Former white supremacist Carl Drewett's in-your-face tattoo (left) is nearly gone after four treatment sessions. Photo / Martin Hunter
Former white supremacist Carl Drewett's in-your-face tattoo (left) is nearly gone after four treatment sessions. Photo / Martin Hunter

Radio personality Simon Barnett says he would help to pay for former white supremacist Carl Drewett to remove his tattoo "1000 times over'', but has stopped short of supporting a taxpayer-funded service.

Drewett, 29, from Christhcurch, is partway through laser treatment to have the "skinhead'' tattoo removed from his forehead, funded by $3000 in donations from members of the public and Mr Barnett, in the hope of getting back into work.

Drewett has an extensive criminal record and was once proud to wear the tattoo he had done as in prison when he was 23 at a cost of $40.

After four laser treatment sessions, he was "stoked'' the tattoo was fading and believed it would have completely gone with about another eight.

Since donating $2000 towards the cost, Mr Barnett was delighted to see Drewett turn his life around.

"He's just got his forklift licence and he's now working regularly with shipping containers. His boss says he's got incredible leadership skills and he's really hard-working. I almost started crying when I read that,'' he said.

Barnett said he wanted to help Drewett after learning about his predicament and speaking to him about commitment to changing his life.

"Carl wants to be a better person. It just seemed to make sense to me that if a guy wanted to turn his life around why shouldn't society help him?''

The pair have stayed in contact and Mr Barnett was proud of the progress Drewett had made.

"I would do it 1000 times over based on my experience with Carl.''

However, many people were less than impressed Mr Barnett's decision to help out.

"The venom ... I got emails from people saying I was a racist for helping.''

The case has sparked discussion over whether the Government should fund tattoo removal.

Government funding helps people searching for or starting work to pay for essential costs, including the cost of tattoo removal, if the client is referred to a tattoo removal service by a registered medical practitioner.

They must meet a number of conditions including showing they have found or are serious about finding work and the maximum amount a person can receive is $1500 a year, said a Ministry of Social Development spokeswoman.

Mr Barnett believed there was a "real need'' for the service but was was unsure if it should be funded by taxpayers.

"I look at things on a case-by-case basis.''

Since helping Drewett, he has received a number of requests from people asking for donations for various things, some of whom he has helped.

Drewett wants to help others in a similar predicament to turn their life around and plans to donate any money left over from his tattoo removal fund to charity, or someone else in the same situation.


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