How to Avoid Santa’s Naughty List

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At Christmas time, there’s nothing I enjoy better than curling up on the couch and taking in a few schmaltzy Christmas movies. Everything from the soppy and sentimental, like Last Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street (the 1994 version of course!), to the cutesy (Love Actually), quirky (How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Elf) to the down-right down-and-dirty, like Bad Santa, Fred Claus and of course Big Arnie’s calamitous classic, Jingle All the Way. But my absolute favourite, top of the pops, is the down-and-dirtiest of all, the DIY juvenile mayhem masterpiece, Home Alone.

What better way could there be to celebrate the festive season of peace and goodwill to all men than by watching the cute, charming, and oh-so-resourceful 8-year-old, Kevin McCallister (McCauley Culkin), single-handedly destroy and demolish two hapless crooks, Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), when they try to break into his family home, where poor Kevin finds himself all alone for Christmas. It’s nothing less than a heart-warming – if a tad ultraviolent – laugh-a-minute Christmas delight!

But it occurred to me lately – from a strictly legal point of view, of course – this fun-filled Christmas romp should probably come with a strict, big-banner warning that reads “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME”. After watching the latest rerun a couple of hundred times over, I started making a little list, just like Santa does this time of year. Only my list wasn’t of who’s been naughty and nice (in Home Alone everyone’s one or the other).  No, this list is a rap sheet of all of the potential charges Kevin could potentially face in Queensland if he tried any of his playful antics for real.

Here’s what I came up with…

1. Common assault/assault occasioning bodily harm under s 339 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 for:

·   shooting Harry in the leg with a BB gun;

·   shooting Marv in the face with a BB gun;

·   cleaning up Marv with a flying paint can;

·   cutting a flying fox rope, so Harry and Marv would slam headlong into a brick  wall; and

·   causing an iron to hit Marv in the face to name but a few.

2. Doing Grievous bodily harm under s 320 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 for:

·   braining poor Harry with a hurtling paint can and knocking out one of his teeth; and

·   heating a front door handle red-hot to brand Harry’s hand with an ‘M,’

assuming, that is, there were no broken bones, lasting scars or other permanent injuries from any of the other attacks.

3. Wounding under s 323 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 for:

·   for putting a nail on the basement steps to go straight through Marv’s foot,

and maybe lots more, depending on a careful review of the medical records.

4. Setting mantraps under s 327 or of the Criminal Code Act 1899 for:

·  dousing the front stairs with water to send Harry head over turkey on the resultant ice-trap;

·   setting a blowtorch to trigger when the kitchen door is opened (setting Harry’s head on fire);

·   carefully positioning glass Christmas ornaments under an open window so Marv can step on them,

not counting the nail trick, the falling iron routine, the trip wire, and countless other ingenious atrocities.

I’m going to give Kevin the benefit of the doubt in saying setting fire to Harry’s head probably doesn’t constitute arson, and causing Harry to be covered all over with sticky tar and white feathers is no more than just a little harmless Yuletide fun.

But, of course, that’s just Home Alone 1. There have since been another five follow-up films, including two made-for-television instalments, which were pretty much crimes in themselves.

In summary, I’d advise against trying to deter any Christmas time robbers Kevin-style. Instead, just invest in a good guard dog, some security cameras and an alarm system. That way, you’ll avoid Santa’s Naughty List, and maybe even some serious jail time.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Nyst Legal team.

Heidi Le Masurier

Gold Coast and Brisbane Lawyer

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