Monday 18 December 2017

Sydney teenager 'very relieved' at arrest of collar bomb suspect

Bonnie Malkin

The schoolgirl at the centre of a terrifying extortion attempt involving a fake collar bomb has spoken for the first time since a man was arrested over the attack, saying she is "very relieved" and will sleep better knowing a man is in custody.

Australian businessman Paul "Doug" Peters was arrested in Kentucky on Tuesday on suspicion of breaking into Madeleine Pulver's home in Sydney on Aug 3.

Wearing a balaclava and wielding a baseball bat, he is accused of attaching a device, which he claimed to be a live bomb, to her neck and leaving her with a note containing several instructions and demands for money.

Miss Pulver, 18, spent 10 terrifying hours attached to the device before the bomb squad was able to free her and determine that it did not contain explosives.

Miss Pulver, the daughter of one of Sydney's richest men, said she had no idea why she had been targeted but was "glad it's all over".

She said she had been sleeping better since a suspect had been arrested, but "it's all very surreal, very surreal".

"I think we're all wondering why," she said.

Her father, Bill Pulver, has said he has no "conscious relationship" with Mr Peters, although the pair worked in Asia and New York at the same time. When in Sydney, Mr Peters lives in Copocobana, a beach town north of Sydney that lies just 10 minutes' drive from a holiday home owned by the Pulvers.

Australian police are now seeking to extradite Mr Peters to Sydney to face charges of kidnapping, aggravated break and enter and demanding property with intent to steal. The process could take at least two months.

While police claim that "a fairly detailed chain of circumstantial evidence" led to his arrest, Mr Peters has said he will contest the charges.

Police have not suggested a motive for the attack, but reports allege that Mr Peters had recently encountered financial troubles. A polo-playing, private-school educated businessman, he was known to "commute" between Sydney and the US, where his ex-wife and three daughters live.

In Sydney, his brother, Brent Peters, said there no way that Mr Peters was guilty because he "wouldn't have the balls" or the technical ability to stage the elaborate attack or create a fake bomb.

"I would not know who'd have any technical capability whatsoever like that. We're old school," he said.

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