By Tui Benjamin
A teenage lag who claimed he couldn’t get a job because he was inked with a huge ‘DEVAST8’ facial tattoo in prison has undergone laser removal after he was offered it for free.
Mark Cropp was desperate to find a job when he was released from prison earlier this month but said the huge amateur inking – which covers his cheeks, mouth and chin – put off potential employers.
When the unemployed 19-year-old, from Auckland, New Zealand, posted about his plight he was inundated with job offers and is now due to start a new scaffolding role on Monday.
And today (TUES) dad-of-one Mark had the first part of the huge tattoo removed from his face for free by Briar Neville, senior laser technician at Sacred Laser in Kingsland, Auckland.
Mark said: “It did hurt, it was like a burning sensation.
“Briar did just one section and I have to go in next week to see what reaction it has had. If it is all good and dandy I can have more done every six weeks.
“I’m excited and so grateful for it. I have been feeling quite emotional about the fact people have offered me so much help.
“I have been really pleased by everything, it has all moved so much faster than how I thought it would have. It is quite overwhelming really.”
Briar administered Mark with numbing cream before performing the first test laser session to remove the pigment from the number eight on the right side of his face.
He is expected to have at least five more sessions of the laser therapy to remove the inking completely, with the free sessions valued at about $3,000 NZD (£1,700) in total.
Briar approached Mark after reading about his plight on social media and said she wanted to prove to him her service was different to prison laser therapy, which she described as ‘barbaric’.
She said: “What we do is give people a clean slate. When I read Mark’s story and the discrimination he had faced it really spoke to me.
“Mark and his partner Taneia are good people. I know he has done a crime but he has done his time for it and I can feel they have goodness in their hearts.
“We are really proud of the work that we do. It’s such a good feeling to be helping someone and to give Mark a second chance– it is life-changing and I know it will have a big impact on his life.”
Mark served two years and three months in prison for aggravated robbery aged 17 after he threatened a tourist with a knife during a cannabis deal which went wrong.
His brother, who was also his prison cellmate, inked him with the unusual etching while the pair were drunk on homebrew made from fermented apples, bread and sugar after promising it would only be small and down the side of his jaw.
The 19-year-old said the tattoo – made using a straightened spring and cassette player gun and ink made from burnt plastic cutlery, toothpaste and water – is so shocking it has nearly caused car crashes.
He shot to global fame last week after posting about his difficulty finding a job on Facebook after he was released from prison in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this month.
The dad-of-one, who insists ‘DEVAST8’ is just a nickname and is not gang-related, said his tattoo is so shocking it has nearly caused car crashes in the past.
Since the coverage of his story exploded he has been offered two jobs in scaffolding and construction despite his criminal convictions but denied reports he had been given 45 offers of employment in total.
Last week the dad-of-one released new images revealing his baby-faced look before he went under the needle.
Mark, who has a daughter with girlfriend Taneia Ruki, said last week: “It was only supposed to be a little tattoo down the side of my jaw but I got intoxicated.
“I fell asleep and eight and a half hours later I woke up with this.
“When I got out of prison people were stopping and looking at me going ‘what the hell’. Everyone was staring at me and some people nearly had car crashes.
“When I went into the job centre one day they said ‘we would not even employ you with that ugly thing on your face’.
“I liked it at the time but now it is just not my sort of thing. I don’t regret having it, but this is my changing point.”