Australian admits fake-collar-bomb extortion bid

 

An Australian
investment banker pleaded guilty today to chaining a fake bomb to a
young woman's neck in a bizarre extortion attempt last year.

Paul Douglas Peters' lawyer Kathy Crittenden pleaded guilty on his behalf in a Sydney courtroom to a charge of aggravated break and enter and committing a serious indictable offence by knowingly detaining 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver.

Pulver was alone studying in her family's Sydney mansion on 3 August when the 51-year-old Peters, wearing a ski mask and wielding a baseball bat, tethered a bomb-like device around her neck. It took bomb squad police 10 hours to remove it, but it contained no explosives and Pulver was not injured.

The man left behind a note demanding money, along with an email address. New South Wales state police have said surveillance footage showed Peters in several locations where they believe he accessed the email account.

Peters, who traveled frequently between the United States and Australia on business, fled to the U.S. and was arrested at his former wife's home in Louisville, Kentucky, almost two weeks after the crime. He was extradited in September to Australia, where he has remained in custody.

Peters appeared in court by video from prison today. He showed no reaction when his lawyer entered the guilty plea.

"Mr Peters deeply regrets and is profoundly sorry for the impact that this incident has had on Ms Pulver and her family," Crittenden told The Associated Press after the hearing. She declined to comment further.

Why Peters targeted Pulver is unclear. US federal court documents show Peters once worked for a company with links to her family, but the Pulvers have repeatedly said they don't know him.

Pulver, who has graduated from high school since the attack, was in court with her parents to hear the plea. Her father, Bill, thanked police, prosecutors and members of the public for their support, and said the attack remains as mysterious and as "random to us in our minds as it did back on 3 August."

"There was no — nothing other than just the fact of Maddie was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Bill Pulver said outside court.

"A poor decision by one man has prompted a truly extraordinary and inspiring response from many thousands of people and we will be forever grateful."

According to Australian court documents, Peters entered the Pulvers' home through the unlocked front door and confronted the teen in her room. "Sit down and no one needs to get hurt," he told her. He then attached the bomb-like device, a two-page typed letter and a USB stick to her neck, told her to count to 200 and left.

In the letter, Peters warned officials not to tamper with the device or it would explode. He said he would send further instructions for a "defined sum" of money, and in exchange, would provide the code to unlock the device.

"I am a former Special Forces Green Beret munitions specialist and have constructed such devises for over twenty years," the letter said. "SO, ACT NOW, THINK LATER, or YOU will inadvertently trigger a tragically avoidable explosion, known in the American armed forces, as a BRIAN DOUGLAS WELLS event."

Wells was a Pennsylvania pizza delivery driver who was killed by a bomb that was locked around his neck as part of a bank robbery plot in 2003.

After his arrest in Kentucky, Peters told officials he had been in Australia finishing a book he was writing. He admitted to officials that he had gone to the Pulvers' street during the week before the attack but said he was only there "to do research for his writing." He admitted setting up the email account mentioned in the demand letter, but denied writing the letter or attaching the bomb-like device to Pulver's neck.

The email address contained a reference to a novel about a ruthless businessman in 19th-century Asia. A copy of that novel was found in Peters' ex-wife's home in Kentucky — but Peters told officials he bought it only after hearing about Pulver's attack in the media.

Bill Pulver was once the president and CEO of NetRankings, a pioneer in tracking online exposure and readership for companies advertising on the Internet. He left after the firm was sold to ratings giant Nielsen in 2007. He is now CEO of Appen Butler Hill, a company that provides language and voice-recognition software and services.

Peters will appear in court next on March 16 for a pre-sentencing hearing. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

£17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

Recruitment Genius: LGV Driver - Category C or C+E

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national Company that manu...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - OTE £30,000

£13000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Assistant

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Maintenance Assistant is requ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?