Man swallows live goldfish at fun fair, is banned from keeping fish

Tom Barnes
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Man swallows live goldfish at fun fair, is banned from keeping fish

A tree surgeon who swallowed a goldfish at a fun fair before washing it down with half a pint of lager has avoided a prison sentence.

Josh Coles was filmed by his girlfriend during the incident, who then posted the video to social networking app Snapchat with the caption “He ate my fish”.

In the 14-second clip, Coles, 27 can be seen holding the live fish in his palm before putting it in his mouth and swallowing it along with a gulp of beer.

He then proudly opens his mouth and sticks out his tongue out to prove he swallowed the animal whole.

The video, which was filmed at Bridgewater Carnival in Somerset in September last year, was shared widely and reported to the RSPCA by those concerned about what they had seen.

Coles, of Tiverton, Devon, appeared at Exeter Magistrates Court on Friday, where he admitted to a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a projected animal.

He had initially denied the charge, but changed his plea to guilty to avoid a trial.

Lindi Meyer, prosecuting, told magistrates the goldfish would have experienced stress and unnecessary suffering as it went slowly through Coles’ digestive tract before death.

“There was never going to be any other outcome but death from his actions,” she said. “These cases are not unusual and courts have taken them very seriously.

“It was videoed and posted on social media by his girlfriend. He said it was initially a stunt for social media and the goldfish was ok and he hadn’t swallowed it.

“He claimed it had been won at the fair and it was already half dead. He was smiling when he said that.

“He seemed bemused by the investigation and asked what would happen as it is only a goldfish.”

Jeremy Tricks, mitigating, said Coles suffers with ADHD and described “countless incidents in the past where he has done things suggested to him by friends and family.”

He said his client struggled with “decision making”.

“There was an incident a couple of days ago where someone suggested he rode a fitness ball down the stairs,” Mr Tricks told magistrates.

“That he did, and put a hole in the wall. He has [also] broken his neck on more than one occasion.”

Coles received a 12-month community order and was banned from keeping fish for five years.

He was ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work and up to five rehabilitation activity days to consider decision-making and alcohol consumption. He must also pay £385 in costs and fines.