We looked earlier this year at the case of Gavin Hope who pleaded guilty to swallowing a goldfish as part of a ‘Neknomination stunt’. He was fined £300.
On 19th August 2014 there were echoes of that in the case of Paul Wooding. Mr Wooding received a challenge and, taking up the dare, “He took the fish from a friend’s tank and put them into a pint glass of wine, gin, vodka, rum and lemonade before swallowing them“.
It seems that Mr Wooding had drunk a not inconsiderable amount of alcohol by this point of the evening. He also recorded himself doing this and put the resulting footage on facebook. Whilst we can’t offer legal advice, we can say this – filming yourself committing a crime and posting it on the internet is not a particularly clever thing to do.
What is Neknomination?
It is described on the BBC thus – “The concept of the game has been described as “neck your drink, nominate another“. Which pretty well sums it up. Wikipedia has a full article on it here, if you want to find out more.
What’s the offence?
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.
What did he get?
What to make of that? It seems quite a generous sentence (animals tend to get quite a lot of protection in our legal system and those harming them get hammered), but maybe a sensible way of dealing with someone who was a drunken idiot.
One thing that his defence lawyer said in mitigation was “Yes, those fish may have experienced pain and then died, but they are small fish, nothing more” which, whilst it may be true, is quite a brave thing to say and may often backfire. Here, though, he seems to have got away with it.