1. ITV Report

Men get animal ban after goldfish swallow prank

A cruel prankster has been banned from keeping animals after his friend filmed him swallowing a live goldfish in front of stunned McDonald's diners.

Robert Atkinson, 20, was videoed by pal Lewis Summers, 19, as he placed the fish in a glass of beer before downing it as part of the Neknominate craze.

Robert Atkinson swallowed a live goldfish Credit: Ross Parry

The warped video shows the pair going into a Pets At Home store and buying the fish, as they boasted to a shop assistant about the dare they were going to perform.

Atkinson swallowed the goldfish in a McDonald's restaurant

Unemployed Atkinson can be heard joking about the cruel act, saying: "I’m going to call him Dmitri. I want a nice big one, we are going to eat it. I'll buy some chips with it."

The friends then go to a nearby McDonald's restaurant in Wakefield and put the creature in a glass of beer, while Atkinson says: "Thanks for the Neknomination, this is a goldfish in beer."

He adds: "That trick usually works better when I've got my rabbit."

He laughs after eating the fish, proclaiming: "I'm an animal".

Warning - Some people might find this video distressing:

The pair were prosecuted by the RSPCA after the video was reported by a concerned member of the public who saw it on Facebook in February.

Appearing at Wakefield Magistrates Court on Wednesday, the pair were given a three-year ban on keeping animals as the judge branded the dare "simply sick humour".

Atkinson admitted the charge of inflicting unnecessary harm to a protected animal.

Summers, who works in an injury solicitors' office, admitted the aiding and abetting of cruelty despite initially telling cops the stunt was a visual trick and that they later released the fish into a nearby pond.

Atkinson swallowed the goldfish in a McDonald's restaurant

The video speaks for itself. This type of challenge is well-known. It's a dare filmed and broadcasted for other people's entertainment.

– Andy Davidson, prosecutor for the RSPCA

John Wilkinson, for Atkinson and Summers, both of Wakefield, told the court his clients had not known they were committing an offence when they made the movie.

You might say this fish only met the sort of death it would have in the wild. You might say, 'well it's only a goldfish'. That creature died a deeply painful and wholly unpleasant death. This was plainly planned to some degree and clearly deliberate. You filmed what happened and put it on a social media site. The further aggravating feature is that you both found it so funny, and still find it funny now. That is quite simply sick humour.

– District Judge Richard Clews

Atkinson and Summers were ordered to serve 40 hours of unpaid work and pay a £723 fine each, alongside a victim surcharge of £60.

Lewis Summers filmed the Necknomination Credit: Ross Parry

I was shocked when I got the call from the RSPCA. I didn't think it was a big issue with it being a small animal. I'm an animal lover myself and I didn't know I was committing an offence. I have thousands of followers on social media, and I posted the video because I knew it would go viral. Some people thought it was funny but there were a few who thought it was cruel. I did later decide to delete the video.

– Lewis Summers, speaking outside court

It's a horrible thing to do to a living animal, and I'm pleased that the courts have taken the same view. I hope that the sentence that's been handed down to the defendants acts as a deterrent and prevents this from happening again in future. It's shocking footage. The district judge was absolutely right. They showed a blatant disregard for that animal's life and welfare.

– Gemma Fowler, RSPCA spokeswoman

The Neknominate craze - which requires the participant to film themselves drinking a pint of an alcoholic beverage in one gulp and upload the footage to the web before nominating two others to do the same - became popular earlier this year.