Thought we’d heard the last of idiots drinking goldfish? Sadly not.
On 2 March 2015, Luke Berry, aged 26, was sentenced to a community order with an unpaid work requirement comprising of 150 hours having pleaded guilty to causing an animal unnecessary suffering.
The RSPCA prosecuted Hope for, presumably, under section 4 of the 2006 Act – that of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. We presume it is under subsection
(2) A person commits an offence if:
(a) he is responsible for an animal,
(b) an act, or failure to act, of another person causes the animal to suffer,
(c) he permitted that to happen or failed to take such steps (whether by way of supervising the other person or otherwise) as were reasonable in all the circumstances to prevent that happening, and
(d) the suffering is unnecessary.
The offence is a summary only offence, triable therefore only in the Magistrates’ Court. The maximum sentence is a £20,000 fine and/or 6 months’ imprisonment.
Berry had been nominated in the “Neknomination” game that became popular last year. If you need reminding what Neknomination is, the BBC had a helpful little explainer:
“Neknominate usually involves people filming themselves “necking” an alcoholic drink, posting a video on social media and then nominating someone else to do the same.”
So, predictably, Berry thought it would be a laugh to swallow a live goldfish and have his mate film it and place the video on social media. The RSPCA brought the prosecution and Berry pleaded guilty (what other option did he have?).
On the video – available here – Berry’s friend can be heard to say “chew his head off and bite him”.
The starting point is to look at page 40 of the guidelines. As usual, it can fairly be said that the offence does not fit into any of the three categories.
Whilst it was ‘one impulsive act’ (a descriptor in category 1 – the lowest category), it was also an attempt to kill – and in fact it did kill – the fish (a descriptor in category 3 – the highest category). The sentencing range is from a Band B fine to 26 weeks’ imprisonment.
Berry received a community order, which is somewhere in the middle of the range set out in the guidelines. This is in contrast to Gavin Hope, who was fined £300 for a similar offence.
Unlikely. Whilst the sentence here is a fair bit higher than that imposed upon Gavin Hope, it can’t be said to really be outside the permissible range.
There is little to say really, other than he deserved the community order for being so stupid as to record and upload the footage onto the internet, if for nothing else.