What did she sell to the minor in order to warrant such a sentence?? Drugs, alcohol, glue for sniffing perhaps?

No, a GOLDFISH!!!!

Have we lost our minds? Are our courts so out of touch as to impose such a draconian sanction on a lady trying to make a living? Do our Councils and Trading Standards Departments have so little to do as to operate a ‘Sting’ operation to buy a Goldfish?

What must people living in other so called decent and democratic countries be thinking when they read about this. They are probably laughing their socks off at our joke of a Criminal Justice System.

For those of you fortunate enough to not know what I am talking about, I’m afraid I’m about to shatter your bliss of ignorance. If you wish to retain the view that Britain is a country hard on criminals and fair on those who work hard and contribute then turn away now!

Mrs Joanne Higgins, a 66 year old pet shop owner, has been fined £1,000 and placed on a tagged curfew of between 7pm and 7am for selling an unaccompanied 14 year old boy a goldfish.

Mrs Higgins’s heinous crime was disclosed by a sting operation set up by Trafford Council and the local Trading Standards Department. The youngster was sent into Mrs Higgins’ shop to buy the dangerous animal!

Please, Please let this be a brilliantly hilarious April Fool’s joke!

It’s no joke for Mrs Higgins I’m quite sure. Leaving her home between those hours of curfew could see her locked up.

It seems to be the case in our justice system that if you are a law abiding citizen you are seen as an easy target and punished harshly. (Speed cameras for example are only able to prosecute people who have registered and insured their cars. People who don’t do what is legally required get away scot-free). If you are a criminal you get a slap on the wrist. Recently a group of robbers who kicked their victim to unconsciousness before robbing him were set free by magistrates with a reparation order. Which crime was worse? Selling a Goldfish apparently.

To compound the insanity, consider this, to prosecute Mrs Higgins would have cost the taxpayer, yes, you and me, approximately £20,000.

There are a few issues that this case raises:

Firstly the way in which we recruit Magistrates, who time and time again demonstrate how out of touch they are. They are generally middle class, retired Ladies and Gentlemen with little or no understanding of the law other that a short course taken upon appointment. Why not recruit from retired Probation or Police officers who have had a career dealing with criminality at all levels and would be able to identify when a crime is worthy of harsh punishment or a slap on the wrist? And get it the right way round too! (Probably because there would be too many guilty verdicts for the government to accept.)

This should not be seen as a slight on our JP’s, I’m sure they do the best they can, it is just that the majority do not have the necessary life experience required to be effective.

Secondly, what on earth were the Council leaders in the Trafford area thinking of when they authorised a ‘sting’ operation for the underage purchase of Goldfish. I am sure there are many shops in their jurisdiction who sell cigarettes and alcohol to minors. I would suggest that addressing these outlets would have a greater effect on anti social behaviour and not have been such a public relation disaster! Not to mention the drug peddlers.

The people in charge of the Council department and the Trading Standards Departments for the area should take a long hard look at themselves and decide what is important.

Trafford Council’s head of public protection, Iain Veitch, said “Let this conviction send out a message that we will not tolerate those who cause unnecessary suffering to animals.”

The only message that has been sent out is that, as a country we have indeed lost the plot and also lost all concept of what is important and relevant. We prosecute easy targets and let hard ones walk free. The situation is unsustainable, if it continues the country will descend into an even more laughable state than it is already.

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