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Koi Thief Caught and Punished

We previously reported on the unfortunate incident at the park adjacent to Colchester Castle. The Imola Pond had been emptied and the park’s koi transferred to a holding tank. An intruder broke in during the night and slashed the tank causing the water to escape. 45 fish were found dead the following morning and these included the park’s oldest and rarest specimens.

The Guilty Party

At the time that we wrote up this incident the police had yet to identify the perpetrator. However, the guilty party was caught on CCTV and had now been apprehended. Unemployed Jamie Watson, aged 18, had been horribly drunk having downed 11 pints of beer. He broke into the park and vandalised the temporary tank before making his escape.

Bizarrely, it has now emerged that Watson left the park clutching a 2-foot koi. He didn’t know what to do with the fish and so left it on a car bonnet.

The Hearing

Jamie Watson was charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court. He pleaded guilty and also admitted theft and two counts of criminal damage. Despite the carnage that he caused and the suffering inflicted on the koi, he escaped a custodial sentence. He was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and to pay £1820. Of this, £1650 was compensation to Colchester Council which owned the tank and the koi.


A witness spoke on Watson’s behalf in mitigation and said that he had been so drunk that he didn’t even remember taking the fish. When he sobered up he found himself holding the 2-foot carp and simply didn’t know what to do. So he decided to leave it on a nearby car!

Experts have suggested that the fish was probably already dead before being placed on the car bonnet or would have died shortly after.

The Reaction

When sentencing Watson, magistrates told him: "This was a reckless act and a cruel, stupid act".

Denise Holland, prosecuting, told the court that there had been "widespread outrage" in response to the incident.

Watson was allegedly "gutted" when he sobered up and realised what he had done. He was now full of remorse. This is doubtless of little comfort to the staff at the park, Colchester Council or the fish.


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