Australian banker Paul Peters jailed for minimum of 10 years for bizarre 'collar bomb' attack on Madeleine Pulver

 

Sydney

The crime - strapping what proved to be a fake collar bomb to a terrified Sydney schoolgirl – was bizarre in the extreme, and so was the “explanation”.

Paul Peters, a former investment banker, claimed he was suffering psychiatric problems and had confused himself with a character in a novel he was writing.

The judge, Peter Zahra, was unimpressed, and said Peters must have known he was inflicting unimaginable terror” on 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver, who was studying at home alone when he broke into her house in August last year. Peters, whose lawyers had argued he was in the grip of a mental breakdown precipitated by the failures of his marriage and career, was jailed for a minimum of 10 years.

Ms Pulver, whose family lives in Mosman, one of Sydney’s wealthiest harbourside suburbs, had to wait 10 agonising hours before police established the device was a fake. Peters, who was wearing a multi-coloured balaclava and wielding a baseball bat when he broke in, left a note claiming it contained powerful plastic explosives and demanding an unspecified sum of money.

The entire operation was bungled, the court heard, with the 52-year-old originally intending to try to extort money from the beneficiary of a multi-million-dollar trust fund. Arriving in Mosman, he bumped into the Pulvers’ next-door neighbour, a businessman whom he had met in Hong Kong. That person became his new target - but on the day of the attack Peters broke into the wrong house.

One psychiatrist told the court that Peters appeared to be acting out the role of the chief protagonist - an “avenging villain” – in his own  novel, set in Hong Kong. But Mr Zahra, sitting in the Sydney District  Court, said he was “not prepared” to accept that version of events, noting: “He would have appreciated the enormity of what he was doing and the impact on the victim.”

The prosecution called it an act of “urban terrorism” fuelled by financial greed. The Crown Prosecutor, Margaret Cunneen, SC, said that Peters – who fled to the US immediately afterwards – was angry at losing his wealth and status, and had decided to “get it all back in one go”.

Outside court, Ms Pulver, now 19, expressed relief at knowing “he will not reoffend”. And in a eference to the headlines which the case generated around the world, she said: “I can now look forward to a future without Paul Peters’ name being linked to mine.”

Peters, who was based mainly in the US at the time, was tracked to his ex-wife’s home in Kentucky a month later with the help of the FBI, and extradited to Australia. In March this year, he pleaded guilty to aggravated breaking and entering and detaining Ms Pulver for advantage.

Defence lawyers said he was suffering from bipolar disorder and major depression after his marriage broke down and he lost custody of his three children. He was also drinking heavily. Wandering through Mosman, he sought to “relive scenes in [his] book”, and came to believe he was his own character John Chan.

When he attached the collar bomb to Ms Pulver, it was to exact “dual revenge: one for John and one for me”, he told doctors. After the petrified teenager alerted police, bomb squad experts worked into the night to remove the device – only then discovering that it was a hoax.

The judge noted that Peters’ expressions of remorse had been “qualified and guarded”. Ms Pulver said she and her family were still  dealing with the trauma of the incident, “but we’re all making good  progress”.

Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
The exterior of a central London Angus Steakhouse
food + drink
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget the rest of the year
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit