As staff Christmas party season approaches, we should take some time to remember this tragic tale. A cautionary lesson for all.
An employee of Merrill Lynch (now Bank of America Merrill Lynch) decided to have some fun at an office Christmas party in 2000 in New Zealand, but his prank had fatal consequences.
The party apparently had a Hawaiian theme and several synthetic grass skirts were in evidence. The banker is said to have thought it would be amusing to sneak into an adjoining toilet cubicle next to a colleague (who was entertaining a female member of staff there at the time), reach under the cubicle, and set fire to the colleague's synthetic skirt.
The banker was said to have been in 'celebratory mood' when he quickly exited the toilet and told others what he had done. Moments later, his colleague staggered from the toilets 'charred and burned'. He sustained burns to 90% of his body, and sadly died three days later.
The former banker was eventually jailed for two years, a light sentence, as the judge recognised that he was truly remorseful and would be punished enough by having to live for the rest of his life knowing that he had killed his friend. The ex-banker was also sentenced to nine months, to be served concurrently, for injurying the female employee.
The judge said that he believed that he (the banker) 'was drunk and out of control' when he decided to undertake the prank.