The circus is in town.  A crazy new phenomenon is sweeping across the US, Europe, and now even Australia. It trumps the Trump, it’s scarier than Ruddy’s run at the UN, and it’s so weird it even out-weirds planking, if that’s actually possible. Scary killer clowns have taken to lurking on our streets, hiding in the shadows and around corners, waiting to maniacally leap out and scare the living socks off us.

Don’t ask me why, but it’s true, and during the past week social media has exploded with sightings of killer clowns all over town. The craze has become so alarming that reports have emerged of people actually assaulting clowns and running them down with their cars to resist their advances. Can you blame them?! After all, if a machete-wielding clown dripping in blood jumped out at you from a dark corner, what would you do?

I almost can’t believe I just asked that question.

In Queensland and most Australian states and territories it is lawful for a person to use such force as reasonably necessary to effectually defend against any assault if the force used is not intended and is not such as is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm. If the nature of the assault causes reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm, and the person using force by way of defence believes, on reasonable grounds, that the person cannot otherwise defend themselves or another from death or grievous bodily harm, it is lawful for the person to use any such force to the assailant (in this case the aforesaid killer clown) as is necessary for defence, even though such force may cause death or grievous bodily harm.

What this potentially means is a bat for a bat and a knife for a knife when a blood-soaked Bozo comes at you with a weapon. In the heat of the moment it could just be considered reasonable to be seriously apprehensive of death or injury, and react accordingly.

So what does this mean for all our homicidal red-nosed friends out there? It probably means they should stick to squirting people with plastic flowers and riding around in ridiculously small cars, because if any reasonable person becomes lawfully entitled to react violently to one of their sudden scary surprises, the result may not turn out as funny as intended.

Natasha Murakami, Gold Coast Lawyer

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