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Sydney - Bomb squad work to defuse device ‘strapped to teenager'


Longterm Registered User
Jul 1, 2009
Bomb squad work to defuse device ‘strapped to teenager'
By Gaby Leslie

Bomb disposal teams have been working through the night to defuse a suspicious device which is reported to be strapped to a frightened young woman in Australia.

At the time of writing, the 18-year-old cannot get away from the device in an alleged extortion attempt in Mosman, a wealthy suburb of Sydney.

Officers from the Bomb Disposal and Rescue Unit were called to the mansion on Sydney’s north shore on Wednesday at 2.30pm Australian time by the woman to reports of a suspicious device.

It has been reported the device may have been strapped to the girl - from one of Sydney’s richest families - by a ‘balaclava-clad’ stranger.

Other reports suggest there was also a ransom note attached to her neck.

An unnamed police officer is quoted in the Australian Daily Telegraph describing the device as a ‘collar bomb’ never been seen before in Australia, but more details about its nature are yet to be confirmed.

New South Wales’s Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch said in a statement that the ‘incident is extremely serious’ and highly sensitive.’

He added: “While the very delicate operation continues at the house with the bomb squad officers, highly-skilled investigators have been working behind the scenes since the incident was first reported.â€

“Given the nature of the incident, I am sure you can all appreciate we need to keep the cards very close to our chest.â€

“The 18-year-old woman is being supported by specialist police inside the home and her parents are being kept fully up-to-date.â€

Police have also said that they are not treating the incident as self-harm and local residents have been evacuated from the vicinity.



POLICE have finally freed the Mosman teen trapped in a collar bomb.

Shortly after midnight, Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch told reporters that the 18-year-old woman had been released from the "very elaborate, very sophisticated device".

"The important thing, ladies and gentlemen, is the young lady is safe," Mr Murdoch said.

That it had taken 10 hours for bomb technicians to "come to grips" with the device was an indication of how elaborate it was.

Police sought the advice of Australian Federal Police and the British military before freeing the woman, Madeleine Pulver.


Sydney teenager Madeleine Pulver in bomb drama saved
By Herald Sun

THE daughter of a multi-millionaire who endured a terrifying ordeal after a masked man strapped a "collar bomb" to her in a brutal extortion bid has been freed.

Sky News reported shortly after midnight that the girl was being reunited with her parents after being saved by bomb disposal experts.

Police sources said the bomb was attached to the neck of Madeleine Pulver, 18, with a note demanding money from her father William, who is the CEO of an international software company.

The exclusive Sydney street - home to horse trainer Gai Waterhouse and Wallaby captains John Eales and Phil Kearns - was evacuated.

Earlier, Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch described the situation as a "very serious and sensitive matter".

Asked whether the girl could move away from the bomb, Mr Murdoch said: "No, she can't get away from it."

The teenager, who celebrated her 18th birthday last month, was home studying for her HSC trial exams when police allege the extortionist broke into the waterfront home and strapped the bomb to her.

Madeleine, who is in her final year at the prestigious Wenona School, managed to contact her father who alerted police.

By 3pm, their exclusive street was in lockdown as the panic-stricken father and his wife, Belinda, stood outside.

Nearby homes on Burrawong Ave were evacuated and nearby streets closed off. The rescue squad was also at the house, with fire crews and paramedics on standby.

The girl was reported to be in the lounge room being supported by police.

One officer said Madeleine was "very distraught".

Police said the scenario was a first in Australia.

"This type of extortion, this type of bomb, we have never seen before," a senior officer said.

"There have been instances where similar type bombs have been worn during attempted bank robberies in America but not here."

Police confirmed the bomb collar was linked to an extortion attempt on Mr Pulver, an international businessman.

"We were told there is a letter but until we can get closer to the girl and everything is safe we don't have details," one officer said.

"The process demands a high level of skill and must be meticulous."

A command post was set up in the street outside.

Upset classmates of the teenager were at the scene last night.

"We are here for Maddie so she knows we love her," friend Ali said.

Anxious residents who crowded the street said the Pulvers were a well-liked family.

"You've got to wonder what would motivate someone to do this," Peter Cassa said.


Longterm Registered User
Jul 1, 2009
How authorities tracked the Australia collar-bomb suspect to Kentucky
By Warren Richey

The man suspected of locking a hoax collar bomb around a teenager in Australia two weeks ago has been arrested in Kentucky and is being held pending extradition to Sydney.

Paul Douglas Peters is facing charges that he locked what appeared to be an improvised explosive device around the neck of an 18-year-old high school student and demanded money from her family to disable the device.

Police said the girl’s family had links to a business that had formerly employed Mr. Peters. He is described as an attorney and investment banker in Australia.

The girl, Madeleine Pulver, was hysterical as police conducted X-rays and other tests to study the device. After more than nine hours, authorities concluded the collar bomb was a hoax and that the device contained no explosives.

The investigation immediately turned to finding the suspected extortionist. A 12-page complaint filed in federal court in Louisville, Ky., details the investigation and reveals how authorities were able to quickly track Peters from Ms. Pulver’s bedroom in Australia to his ex-wife’s home in Kentucky.

An account of the crime

The alleged crime occurred at 2:15 p.m. on Aug. 3, when a man in a hooded mask walked into Pulver’s bedroom with a backpack and a black baseball bat. “Sit down and no one needs to get hurt,†the man told the alarmed teen.

He quickly used a chain and lock to attach what appeared to be an explosive device around her neck. He placed a lanyard with a computer flash drive and a hand-written note in a document sleeve around her neck as well. The man then left the house.

Before she even read the note, Pulver phoned her parents who notified the police. The note advised her not to call the authorities. It read in part: “Powerful new technology plastic explosives are located inside the small black combination case delivered to you. The case is booby trapped. It can ONLY be opened safely, if you follow the instructions and comply with its terms and conditions.â€

The note continued: “You will be provided with detailed Remittance Instructions to transfer a Defined Sum once you acknowledge and confirm receipt of this message.â€

The note demanded that receipt of the instructions be confirmed with an e-mail to a particular Gmail address.

Tracking the suspect

Police were able to determine that the e-mail account had been set up on May 30 at the Chicago Airport. They also discovered that the account had only been accessed three times, all within hours of the bomb hoax on Aug. 3.

One contact was traced to a computer at a public library. The two other contacts were traced to a public computer at a video store. Authorities reviewed recordings from security cameras at the library and at a liquor store adjacent to the video shop. The individual caught on camera matched the victim’s description of the attempted extortionist.

Investigators also examined the USB flash drive. In addition to instructions for payment, the drive contained a deleted file that had been written on a computer with an identified owner of “Paul P.â€

The video at the library also captured the suspect arriving and departing in a Range Rover sport-utility vehicle. Police examined vehicle registration data for all similar make Range Rovers located near the library and video shop.

The police located registration and license information for Paul Douglas Peters. His photograph matched the security videos.

Trail leads to America

Armed with a name, police discovered that Peters had left Australia on Aug. 8 on a United Airlines flight to Chicago and that he transferred to another flight on to Louisville, Ky.

Security video at Sydney Airport matched earlier video and the drivers’ license photo.

Police also discovered that roughly a month before the alleged extortion attempt, Peters used his MasterCard to purchase a USB flash drive and purple lanyard similar to the drive and lanyard recovered around Pulver’s neck. Two weeks before the alleged attempt, he used the same credit card to purchase a black baseball bat.

The major break in the US part of the investigation came when Australian authorities found documents showing that Peters had wired money in 2009 from Australia to the home of ex-wife in the Louisville suburb of Le Grange, Ky.

An FBI agent was dispatched to the location and observed a man matching Peters’s description in the back yard. A substantial force of heavily armed FBI agents surrounded the house. Peters was arrested without incident.

Peters made his initial appearance in federal court on Tuesday. He has been given two months to prepare for a hearing to determine whether he should be extradited to Australia. His lawyer says Peters intends to fight the charges in Australia.

According to federal documents, Peters is charged in Australia with “aggravated break and enter with intent to commit a serious indictable offense,†“demand property by force with intent to steal,†and kidnapping.


Police investigate Australia 'collar bomb' suspect's links to teenage girl's family
By Kathy Marks

The arrest in Kentucky this week of an Australian banker suspected of a fake bomb threat against a Australian teenager has been hailed as a breakthrough. But criminologists remain mystified by the case, which they describe as highly unusual in Australia.

Paul Peters is a middle-aged Australian businessman suspected of being the masked intruder who broke into Madeleine Pulver’s family home two weeks ago and strapped what he claimed was a bomb to her neck.

Ms. Pulver endured a 10-hour ordeal, which made headlines around the world, before police were able to establish that the "collar bomb" device was a hoax.

An e-mail address on a note hung around Pulver’s neck led Australian police to Mr. Peters, who has lived in the United States and still travels there frequently. He was arrested by an FBI SWAT team at his former wife’s house outside Louisville, Ky., and now faces extradition to Australia.

Links to Pulver's father

According to documents filed in the US District Court in Louisville, where he appeared yesterday, Peters once worked for a company with links to Pulver’s father, Bill, a prosperous businessman. Australian police are still investigating those links, but allege that his motive was to extort money. The note said that details for delivering “a defined sum†would be sent once it had been read and acknowledged.

Australia has a history of extortion attempts, and the number of extortion or blackmail cases has doubled over the past eight years in the province of New South Wales, according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. But those that come to public attention most frequently concern threats to contaminate the products of food or pharmaceutical companies.

In 2005, for instance, stocks of Mars and Snickers chocolate bars were withdrawn from retailers’ shelves following a series of threatening letters to the manufacturers, Masterfoods.

Kidnapping and extortion rare in Australia

Extortion attempts against wealthy individuals or their families – a common occurrence in countries such as the Philippines – are relatively rare in Australia, according to Paul Wilson, a forensic psychologist and criminology professor at Bond University, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. And the use of a “collar bomb,†even as a hoax, is “extremely rare, or even unique†in this country, he says.

The case most similar to the current one dates from 1960, when Stephen Bradley, an electroplater, demanded a ransom from the parents of an 8-year-old boy, Graeme Thorne, whom he had abducted from a residential Sydney street. Graeme’s parents had recently won the lottery. Graeme’s body was found five weeks later, and Bradley was convicted of murdering him.

Australia’s best known extortion case also ended in tragedy: a leading Sydney heart surgeon, Victor Chang, was shot dead in 1991 after a failed extortion attempt.

Unlike in the Philippines and Colombia, most extortion cases in Australia do not involve kidnap. And, Prof. Wilson says, the threat is usually a hoax. However, he adds that the majority of such cases are not reported in the media, or even to the police.

Where companis are involved, “the companies often settle them privately, otherwise they have to withdraw their products.â€
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