Following several months of investigation and a sting operation involving a 14 year old boy as a "honey trap", Manchester police nabbed Joan Higgins and her son Mark for distributing "goldfish" to children.
The Daily Bear has since found out that by "goldfish" they really do mean goldfish.
Further investigation found that the 14 year old boy had been sent in to the Higgins' pet shop by police to see if they were indeed flagrantly flaunting the 2006 law banning pet sales to children under 16. What's worse, they have been breaking this 4 year old law in the same shop for the past 28 years! About time they were brought to justice I say.
We applaud the Manchester police for clamping down on crime in what, until goldfishgate, had been a relatively safe neighbourhood for both children and goldfish. This crime has far exceeded the original Danish goldfishgate.
And clearly, the UK child labour laws that set the minimum working age at 16 need not apply in such an important case.
Not being able to afford a decent lawyer, the mother and son syndicate pleaded guilty to the crime -- yup, this ain't no unimportant civil case like drunk driving my friend -- and the judge sentenced the mother-son animal peddling gang to 1,000 pounds each. They were very lucky there, because the maximum penalty is actually 20,000 pounds which would be more appropriate for, say, selling 20 goldfish to a 14 year old.
Do you want YOUR goldfish in HIS bowl?
In addition -- to monitor these criminals' movements and keep the neighbourhood safe -- Joan "Goldfish" Higgins was also placed under curfew and ordered to wear an electronic tag for two months.
Iain Veitch, head of public protection at Trafford Council, made it clear that such blatant breaches of criminal law simply wouldn't be tolerated on his watch. Ever:
"Let this conviction send out a message that we will not tolerate those who cause unnecessary suffering to animals. The council... will not hesitate to use our statutory powers."
I couldn't have put it better myself.
Being a whingeing pom, the 66 year old convicted felon complained about the curfew and not being able to baby-sit her great-granddaughter for two months. But seriously, who really wants convicted felons near children anyway? Especially when they can't even be trusted with goldfish.