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A 'stupid' prankster has been convicted after posting a video to social media of him licking his fingers and wiping them on supermarket goods during the spring coronavirus lockdown.
Benjamin Best was out shopping for his grandparents three weeks into the spring lockdown when he carried out the act at a Lidl store in Bridport, Dorset.
In the clip, the 20-year-old can be seen wearing a mask and gloves, placing his two fingers in his mouth before wiping them on a set of napkins.
The footage was uploaded to Snapchat where it was viewed by 60 people, one of whom reported it to the police.
Best was then arrested on suspicion of contaminating or interfering with goods with intent.
Speaking during a hearing Weymouth Magistrates' Court, Charles Nightingale, prosecuting, said the offence took place on 3 April when strict hygiene measures were in place.
He said: "He was wearing a mask and gloves and licked two fingers in his mouth and then preceded to swipe those fingers across paper napkins on the shelf.
"He filmed himself doing it. He uploaded the small recording to Snapchat and it was seen by 60 people. It came to the attention of the police and the recording was seized.
"He thought it was a joke. He thought his friends would find it funny. But it wasn't. Some people who saw it reported it to the police."
It was heard that Best had claimed he purchased the packet of napkins, however, no receipt was ever produced.
Mr Nightingale added: "It was a prank but he realises it was an utterly stupid action and that it was done without thought."
Mitigating, Ian Brazier said Best's actions were 'stupid'.
He said: "I think that this was done at the spur of the moment for a laugh.
"He has had quite a lot of time to reflect upon it. He has been helping out at home, looking for work and worked at a carpet fitting company, something that he tried out and liked."
Mr Brazier told the court his client had apologised to his family for his actions and that in a letter from one of his grandparents Best was described as 'kind and considerate'.
Best pleaded guilty and was handed an 18 month community order and told to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay a £90 ($116) victim surcharge and costs of £85 ($110).
Presiding over the case, Magistrate Debbie Boitoult said: "This was a very serious incident. Given the rules, you committed this offence at the time of extreme stress and fear. You thought it would be funny to make the video.
"It was clear that people weren't laughing, hence why you are in court."
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