January 22nd, 2010

A Fishy Tale

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I check out the police-related stories in the news most days to seek inspiration for my blog – when you make a post every single day for more than two years, you sometimes need a lot of inspiration!

Today I could have gone with a story on some Met Officers accused for fraud, or the news that forces up & down the country ar lauding the good news that recorded crime is down, or experts being drafted in to help a failing force or a similar story that last Christmas’s drink driving figures are down.

But the story that really caught me eye was the one where a prosecution of a woman accused of killing 3 goldfish has failed in Norich. Nineteen-year-old Chantelle Amies was accused of pouring bleach into the fishtank killing a 4-year-olds pet fish after a ‘bitter dispute’ after her fingerprints were found on the bleach bottle & fishtank in a neighbour’s house.

Three witnesses told police they could smell bleach in the tank & water samples were taken. However the sample was not sent off for froensic examination by police who quoted the high costs involved. The defendant denied the charge but was sent to local magistrates who dismissed the case on hearing the water had not been tested.

The Mail isn’t really sure whether to blame the police for not sending the sample off or the CPS for allowing the case to proceed without sufficient evidence.

Important issues are raised by the case. The fish are classed as property & the value of the damage caused to them was £7; their replacement cost – no cruelty charges were brought, the charge was criminal damage. How far do we go to enforce the law. A 4 year old child had his fish killed, should the facdt that the cost of prosecution runs into several thousand pounds mean we don’t prosecute anyone.

Do we say that unless there is a financial loss under a certain amount of money then no prosecution should ensue because of the costs? If so, what message does that send?

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6 comments

  1. Oi says:

    Well – Yes.
    Somewhere a line should be drawn, but I think it requires something that is sadly lacking these days – a modicum of intelligence.

    The line must of necessity, be irregularly drawn – but I think a goldfish probably falls on the south side of it – especially when that intelligence test is applied – anyone with two neurones rubbing together should be able to see there is a gaping gap in the evidence train – the lack of proof of the presence of bleach.

    January 23rd, 2010 at 00:51

  2. ted says:

    The monetary value counts but other aspects are just as important. I think the case in Glasgow where a ned taped a hamster to a rocket then lit it was well worth police and court time and money to pursue. It is about what behaviour is acceptable in a civilised society.

    As for killing goldfish with bleach? If the evidence was sufficient then why not? As for the expense of a lab report? That isn’t a problem when charging someone with possession of a personal quantity of cannabis. So why was it a problem here? The only argument might be how much fish are likely to suffer. After all catching mammals by hooking them and dragging them towards you before hitting them over the head with a stick isn’t held to be reasonable but is allowed for fish.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7220753.stm

    January 23rd, 2010 at 09:44

  3. Tony F says:

    I think that making the alleged perpetrator drink some of the contents of the fish tank would suffice….After all, if bleach was put in the tank, there wouldn’t be much bacteria left.

    I think that if you are going to have laws, they must be enforced irrespective of the monetary cost. If this isn’t done you would revert back to a feudal system where people with money would buy their justice (Privilege) and those that cannot will get short shrift.

    January 23rd, 2010 at 17:32

  4. Fat Lad says:

    The monetary value is irrelevant – if the scrote who did it is found guilty then they should pay all the costs of the investigation/prosecution.

    January 23rd, 2010 at 19:42

  5. boy on a bike says:

    I’m with Tony F, except I’d make her eat the fish. Whole and raw.

    There used to be a drinking game that had something to do with swallowing live goldfish.

    January 24th, 2010 at 02:21

  6. Ben says:

    @Tony F.

    Absolutely. All laws should be rigorously enforced all of the time. I hope you turn yourself in to the police every time you accidentally drift over the speed limit.

    Seriously, if it was really such a big deal for a single offence to go unpunished, society would be in tatters. A sense of proportion is needed.

    If a first offence, it was worth words of advice, or a caution. Full stop. I would not have involved the police at all if it had been my children’s goldfish.

    The smell of bleach was enough evidence. But when the bench thinks the prosecution should not have been brought, they sometimes start looking around for reasons to toss evidence which they could reasonably have chosen to accept. Is this what happened here?

    January 25th, 2010 at 15:23

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