John Halewood-Dodd column: An Elf and safety lesson courtesy of lawyerJohn and his son Harry

John Halewood-Dodd
John Halewood-Dodd

Offences of assault, of which there are varying degrees of seriousness, are often successfully defended with a defence of ‘self- defence’.

In essence, the law allows an individual to defend themself,and others, from attack but, vitally, only what is “reasonably necessary” to do so. Each case has to be taken on its own merits and as such there are no hard and fast rules.

However, the law does acknowledge that it is difficult to “weigh to a nicety” what level of force should be used. I found myself contemplating this when on a family holiday to Lapland. At each location there would be at least one of Father Christmas’s helpers to build the excitement..There was Noisy Ned, Snowy Bowy and Tricky Dicky, the mischievous Elf.

My youngest son Harry, not yet two at the time, took an instant dislike to Tricky Dicky. Our coach arrived at a frozen lake where Tricky Dicky,and pals were there to meet us.

Playing up to their naughty tag, they began to throw snowballs at the coach windows. This really freaked Harry out so I reassured him a little Elf was no match for his big, brave ,dad.

To emphasise this I made a snowball and threw it (underarm I hasten to add) at Tricky Dicky, hoping that he would take it in jest. Quite the contrary as his little cheeks burned red and he set off after me.

At first I thought he was joking but I looked back and realised old T.D. was intent on causing me harm. If I had gone toe-to-toe with him would my actions have been reasonable?

I figured not and kept running. As he couldn’t catch me (only little legs, him not me) the situation was diffused.


Thank God because if I’d been caught and beaten up I don’t think I could ever have looked Harry in the eye again.