Mark Cropp’s Journey Facing Tattoos, Crime, and Redemption in New Zealand


A convict who first made headlines in 2017 for saying he couldn’t get a job because of his face tattoo reading ‘DEVAST8’ is back behind bars – after previously vowing to turn his life around.

Mark Anthony Cropp, 26, who has already been in custody for eight months, has been sentenced to an additional four months in prison in Christchurch, New Zealand, for crimes including assaulting a police officer and methamphetamine possession.

But despite his extensive criminal history dating back to 2015, a judge has offered Cropp another chance to mend his ways with a ‘clean slate start,’ reports the New Zealand Herald.

When he initially came to the public’s attention, Cropp said he wanted to better himself to provide for his young children. This admission led to several job offers, and laser clinics even said they would remove his tattoo for free.

But he gave up on the idea of having his tattoo removed after just one laser session, turned down 45 job offers, and has since added to his tattoo collection with one reflecting his gang links.

The tattoo parlor isn’t the only thing Cropp has been unable to steer clear of: he is also back into crime and, to make matters worse, has had heart problems.

In early 2019, he was convicted of assaulting and threatening a pregnant woman, and a week later pleaded guilty in another court to a firearms incident.

His lawyer at the time blamed the media for his client’s difficulties.

‘He found it difficult to gain employment, accommodation, obtain social support – in part due to his facial tattoo, but this has been cruelly aggravated by being repeatedly mocked and ridiculed by the media,’ the lawyer said.

In late 2019, Cropp was blinded in one eye and left with two fractured ribs in a savage attack by five fellow inmates in jail.

He had previously served a two-year jail sentence for aggravated robbery after he pulled a knife on a tourist in a fake drug deal.

In a previous interview with Daily Mail Australia, Cropp said his brother gave him the Devast8 tattoo while they were drunk on alcohol brewed in jail.

He said Devast8 was his nickname, but not for reasons he was proud of.

‘You know there was a long time when I would devastate everything I touched. I would devastate everyone I met or got close to,’ he said.

‘They would be disappointed with something I had done or said – I always heard “that’s devastating.”‘

Cropp was inundated with job offers after complaining that he couldn't get work due to his face tattoo. He ended up turning down 45 jobs
Cropp was inundated with job offers after complaining that he couldn’t get work due to his face tattoo. He ended up turning down 45 jobs.
Cropp (pictured) gave up on the idea of having his face tattoo removed after one laser session
Cropp (pictured) gave up on having his face tattoo removed after one laser session.

The tattoo was drawn with a homemade gun, which used a needle made from the spring of a pen and was powered by a cassette player.

Plastic knives and forks were burnt to a black plastic powder and mixed with toothpaste and water to create the ink.

‘Once it was started, I thought, “I can’t go back on it now.” I wish I had stopped while the outline was there,’ he said.

‘Before I knew it, I had this on my face… It was swollen like a bloody pumpkin.’

Despite his long list of violent and drug-related crimes, Judge Quentin Hix said he wanted to ‘tidy everything up’ for Cropp over his latest convictions.

The judge said three months in prison was appropriate for the charge of breaching a protection order, with a month added for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.

‘On all the other charges, I have dealt with them essentially by way of a convict and discharge,’ Mr Hix said, as he also converted Cropp’s outstanding fines of $1,800 to jail time.

‘You are young, so I hope you can figure out how to avoid coming back here and do stuff that you enjoy that does not involve you getting in trouble,’ he told Cropp.

A judge told Cropp, 'You are young... I hope you can figure out how to avoid coming back here'
A judge told Cropp, ‘You are young… I hope you can figure out how to avoid coming back here.’

‘I am trying to give you a clean slate start today – please treat it as it has been given to you.’

Cropp told the judge he would live with his grandmother, who has visited him in jail every two weeks when he is released.

He also told the court he has had a pacemaker fitted to ensure his heart beats at the right speed.

‘She wants to keep a close eye on me, with having the pacemaker,’ Cropp said.

Mark Cropp was inundated with job offers after his desperate plea for work went viral, but he said he was ‘waiting for the right one.’

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