Tiverton, Devon: Joshua Coles

#TheList Joshua Coles, born c. 1991, of Ennerleigh Farm, Washfield near Tiverton, Devon EX16 9RF – filmed swallowing a live goldfish he had just won at Bridgwater Fair

Animal abuser Joshua Coles from Washfield, Tiverton
Animal abuser Joshua Coles from Washfield, Tiverton

A 14 second long video posted on Snapchat showed Coles holding the fish in his right hand before putting into his mouth.

He then drinks half a pint of beer to swallow it before opening his mouth to show his pals that he had gulped it down.

Coles admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal during the incident which took place during September 2018.

RSPCA prosecutor Lindi Meyer showed Exeter magistrates court the video that was made by Coles’ girlfriend who posted it on social media.

"Only a goldfish" - Coles has never shown any remorse for his actions and found it amusing that the cruel death of a helpless goldfish warranted an investigation
“Only a goldfish” – Coles has never shown any remorse for his actions and found it amusing that the cruel death of a helpless goldfish warranted an investigation

Miss Meyer said:”This case relates to the defendant swallowing a live goldfish and washing it down with half a pint of alcohol.”

His girlfriend posted the video entitled ‘he ate my fish’ and Coles told RSPCA investigators it was ‘just a stunt for social media’.

The court heard Coles was ‘amused and bemused’ by the investigation saying it was ‘only a goldfish‘.

Vet expert David Martin said the goldfish was still alive when it was swallowed and took a swig of alcohol to wash it down.

Mr Martin said goldfish can feel pain and would have died from a deprivation of oxygen.

Miss Meyer said tree surgeon Coles was egged on by two other people who laughed as he carried out the act.

She said:”He caused the death of the animal. There was never any other outcome from his actions.”

She said he had been drinking alcohol and showed no remorse and had been amused and bemused by the RSPCA inquiry and he valued the fish in a ‘trivial nature’.

A probation officer said Coles was ‘a class clown’ who showed off in front of people.

She said he was ’embarrassed and ashamed’ by what he had done.

She said:”It is a very unpleasant offence.”

Solicitor Jeremy Tricks, defending, said Coles suffers with ADHD and depression and anxiety.

He said:”He has very poor decision making skills. It was an idiotic and stupid mistake but there is no malice in him.”

He said people watch him ‘do something amusing’.

After the case RSPCA Inspector John Pollock said:”We are asked why prosecute for a goldfish but they feel pain and have a spine.

“We will deal with it whether it is a large or small creature that has suffered.

“This is the first time in my 30 year career that I have had a prosecution like this but there have been ones in the past when there was the Neknominate craze.

“The expert veterinary evidence is that the goldfish would have drowned in beer content and his stomach acids. If a goldfish was put in a glass of acid then people would be jumping up and down about it and ringing us up.

” This goldfish would have suffered a great deal. It would have dissolved alive in the stomach acids.

“This goldfish was a prize at a fair. We are very much against live animal prizes and some councils have outlawed them.

“At the end of this fair we got lots of calls about being goldfish being dumped on the ground. They get easily stressed, even with the acoustics of being thrown about in a plastic bag that they come in.”

Sentencing: 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work and five rehab days. Costs and charges totalling £385. Five-year ban on owning fish.

SomersetLive
BBC News

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