A MAN arrested after footage of him swallowing a goldfish came to light has branded the investigation a waste of police time.

Police are investigating Christopher Caswell after the video was posted on Facebook.

During the minute-long clip, the 30- year-old is seen to pay £1.99 for the fish at Petals and Pets, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, before asking a shop assistant to put it in a glass he is holding.

He then calmly gulps it down in front of everyone and leaves.

Seconds later, a friend can be heard laughing and saying: “Goldfish down the hatch”.

The roofer, of Silverdale Place, Newton Aycliffe, was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty by officers on Friday.

Speaking to The Northern Echo last night, Mr Caswell said the inquiry was a waste of police time, but refused to make any further comment.

He told a national newspaper he was an animal lover and that the incident was part of a drunken evening with friends last year.

He said: “It was over a year ago. We had been out drinking at a friend’s party. I cannot remember much about it. I have just got a puppy. I like animals.”

An RSPCA spokeswoman said the society and police would continue to investigate the case, adding that animal cruelty of any kind was taken extremely seriously.

She said: “If it is an offence of cruelty, you cannot look to take action when it is against one animal in particular and not another.

“The law is there for a reason.”

The footage has elicited an angry response from people in Newton Aycliffe.

One, who did not want to be named, said: “Everyone thinks it is awful. Who does that kind of thing? It’s sick.”

If Mr Caswell is convicted of animal cruelty, he could be fined £20,000 or jailed for six months.