By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
For German international student, Paul Kuhn, the temptation to wander around a museum in the middle of the night – and take a bunch of selfies with dinosaurs in the process – was all too real.
So alluring was the idea that in the early hours of 10 May 2020, the 25-year-old allegedly decided he would break into the Australian Museum in Sydney’s CBD and scrupulously explore the premises for a good 40 minutes.
Indeed, it was much like the film Night at the Museum, except of course that the dinosaurs didn’t come to life.
And just as well – given the alleged museum trespasser put his head inside the mouth of one.
Unfortunately for the man, CCTV captured all his intruder antics as he took himself on a tour of Australia’s oldest museum specialising in natural history and anthropology.
In the footage, Mr Kuhn could be seen allegedly gawking at the exhibits, calling his friends in dimmed hallways, rummaging through cupboards, and even taking selfies of his head in the skulls of dinosaurs.
He also allegedly donned a brown cowboy hat that he stumbled across on a coat rack that belonged to a member of staff.
As Mr Kuhn left, he also allegedly stole an artwork, and failed to return the hat.
Thankfully, no historical artefacts were damaged during the ordeal.
NSW Police Release CCTV Footage in Bid to Find Museum Intruder
Following the incident, NSW Police were forced to release the CCTV footage in an effort to identify the man.
NSW Detective Chief Inspector Sean Heaney told reporters of the student’s clowning around after breaking in to the museum.
“He’s wandered through some of the internal areas to check some lockers and doors,” Chief Inspector Heaney said.
“He’s taken some selfies with some of the displays. He’s also stolen a hat and a picture from the wall and eventually left.
“And yeah, he certainly enjoyed his night at the museum.”
Chief Inspector Heaney also issue Mr Kuhn a public warning to “get in contact with us before we get in contact with you.”
Indeed, it appeared Mr Kuhn followed the advice as he turned himself into Surry Hills police station not long after where he was charged with break and enter.
He was refused bail and given a date to appear at Central Local Court.
German Student Faces Court Over Stolen Cowboy Hat and Artwork
On 18 May, Mr Kuhn appeared in court where he faced charges of breaking and entering into the Australian Museum, as well as stealing a cowboy hat and a piece of artwork.
His lawyer verified the student had no criminal history and during the alleged incident, had not been trying to hide his face.
The 25-year-old student was granted bail on the conditions that he hands over his passport and adheres to a curfew.
It is believed the German student is a self-confessed “hustler” and poker player.
He also refers to himself as a “property entrepreneur”, however, he simultaneously boasts that “he doesn’t have to work”, while his social media profiles showcase a lifestyle characteristic of a playboy as well as a series of short-lived jobs.
Mr Kuhn also claims to have played poker professionally back in the town of Hessen in Germany, saying it helped him learn “a lot about life and business”.
Nevertheless, he ended up quitting poker, which he played seven days a week for up to 20 hours at a time, because he “felt like a thief” and wanted to “make people’s lives better”.
Mr Kuhn came to Sydney on a student visa two years ago.
He lasted two months working as a door-to-door sales representative, before deciding there was “no opportunity for growth”.
Now, it appears he is making the most of what he calls “living the Australian dream”.
In NSW, if you carry out a ‘serious indictable offence’ inside a building or home after breaking into it, you will find yourself charged with the crime of breaking and entering and committing a serious indictable offence pursuant to section 112 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
The maximum penalty for this offence is 14-years jail.
A serious indictable offence is any offence that carries a penalty of more than five years in jail – which include crimes such as larceny, assault occasioning bodily harm and sexual assault.
Have a question on this topic of law? Get in touch with one of our criminal lawyers based in Sydney & Parramatta.