Thursday 8 December 2016

Goldfish sale woman's tag removed

Published 29/04/2010 | 16:32

Joan Higgins arrives at Manchester's Minshall Street Crown Court
Joan Higgins arrives at Manchester's Minshall Street Crown Court

A judge has ordered the removal of an electronic tag placed on a 66-year-old great-grandmother after a goldfish was sold unlawfully to a teenager at her pet shop.

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Judge Adrian Smith said the 10-week 6pm to 6am curfew imposed against Joan Higgins was "inappropriate" for a "respectable lady" with no previous convictions as he ruled the correct sentence was a conditional discharge.

Mrs Higgins, licence holder at Major Pets in Sale, Greater Manchester, was prosecuted by Trafford Council after it sent in a 15-year-old boy to make a test purchase of a goldfish.

The animal was sold by her son, Mark, 44, who did not question the child's age or provide any information about the care of the fish.

An animal welfare officer present at the purchase visit last July also noticed a cockatiel in the store that appeared to be in distress.

A veterinary surgeon examined the bird and found it had a broken leg, eye problems and a distended stomach. It later had to be put down.

Both mother and son pleaded guilty at Trafford Magistrates' Court to causing unnecessary suffering to the cockatiel.

Mr Higgins admitted selling the goldfish to a minor and Mrs Higgins - who has run the shop for 28 years - also pleaded guilty to six contraventions of her pet shop licence.

Magistrates imposed a 12-month community order on Mr Higgins with the requirement to perform 120 hours of unpaid work, while his mother was told she had to wear the tag as a result of her first conviction. Hearing an appeal against their sentences at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, Judge Smith said he had the advantage of hearing detailed submissions on the case which were not previously heard as the two defendants chose to have no legal representation before the magistrates.

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