Teen’s fake collar bomb ordeal: Australian arrested in US
Published 16/08/2011 | 07:57
An Australian man has been arrested in the United States over a fake collar bomb that was attached to the daughter of a Sydney millionaire as part of an elaborate extortion attempt.
The 50-year-old was detained after an FBI SWAT team, accompanied by two NSW police officers, stormed a house in suburban Louisville, Kentucky.
Police said the man was an Australian citizen who worked in both the US and Australia and "commuted “between the two, but spent most of his time in Sydney. Before the attack he had been in Sydney for six weeks. He has not yet been charged.
Australian police are now seeking his extradition to face charges relating to the attack on Madeleine Pulver, 18.
Miss Pulver had told police that a balaclava-clad man with "old, wrinkly eyes", broke into her home on Aug 3, attached the device to her neck and left a note containing several demands. After a 10 hour ordeal to free her, police found that the device did not contain explosives.
David Hudson, the assistant police commissioner, said police were not searching for any other offenders.
"We are quite confident the person we have arrested was responsible for the crime.
"We will allege that the suspect was responsible for entering the Pulver home and placing the device around Maddie's neck."
When he arrives in Sydney he will be charged with aggravated break and enter and kidnapping offences, which carry "significant" sentences, Mr Hudson said.
However, the extradition process could take months.
Although there is no known connection between the man and the Pulver family, it is believed there is "very strong" circumstantial evidence. Police are still treating the crime as an extortion attempt.
The man had left Australia on August 8. There is no known motive for the attack, but the family lived in New York for several years from 2002 when Bill Pulver, Madeline's father, was president and chief executive of NetRatings, an audience ratings company.
The Pulver family has been made aware of the breakthrough.
Andrew Scipione, the NSW police commissioner, said the arrest was a victory for justice.
"This is a very good day for the Australian police force but it is even better for Maddie, her family and the New South Wales community."
The man will appear before a court in Kentucky in the next 24 hours.