A PET shop owner has been slapped with a £500 fine for selling a hamster without a licence.

Nancy Maxwell, owner of Animal Kingdom, in north London's Wood Green Shopping City, traded in live animals despite being refused a licence to keep a pet shop in 2005.

Ms Maxwell was caught out last year when an undercover trading standards officer was sold a hamster at the shop.

In court, Ms Maxwell said shop staff had sold the hamster by mistake and the animals were just there to attract people to the shop.

Ms Maxwell, who was prosecuted under the Pet Animals Act, was fined £500 and ordered to pay £500 costs.

Cllr Nilgun Canver, executive member for crime and community safety, said: "We have to protect animals and also the rights of consumers, who expect their pet to be healthy and kept in a healthy environment.

"We cannot issue licences to anybody. We must be satisfied the animals will be well cared for in appropriate surroundings."

The hamster, named Scamper, lived out the remainder of his life in a loving home. He recently died.