Collar 'bomb' ordeal victim hails arrest

An Australian teenager who spent 10 hours with a fake bomb chained to her neck said today that she is relieved the FBI has arrested a man accused of breaking into her home and tethering the device to her as part of an elaborate extortion plot.

Paul Douglas Peters was arrested in Kentucky on Monday in connection with the attack on 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver, who was studying at home in Sydney when a masked man carrying a baseball bat broke in and attached the bomb-like device to her neck.

The intruder left behind a note demanding money, along with an email address which appeared to refer to a novel about a ruthless businessman in 19th century Asia. Bomb technicians later found no explosives in the device.

A smiling Miss Pulver told reporters outside her home in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Mosman that she was "very relieved" to hear of Peters' arrest.

"I'm glad it's all over," she said.

Asked whether she was wondering why she had been targeted, she replied: "I think we're all wondering why."

Peters, a 50-year-old Australian investment banker who travels frequently to the US, was arrested by the FBI at his ex-wife's house in a well-heeled suburb near Louisville, Kentucky.

Yesterday, US Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin ordered Peters to be jailed pending an extradition hearing set for October 14 in Louisville.

Australian police plan to charge him with multiple offences, including kidnapping and breaking and entering.

What ties he has to the wealthy Pulver family remain unclear, although federal court documents released yesterday say he once worked for a company with links to the Pulvers.

William Pulver, Madeleine's father, is chief executive of Appen Butler Hill, a company which provides language and voice-recognition software and services.

Peters' brother, Brent Peters, said his brother would not have the guts or the technical capacity to mastermind such a plot.

"I still don't believe it. I still think there's more than meets the eye in this case," said the 52-year-old. "I would not know who'd have any technical capability whatsoever like that. We're old school."

Brent last saw his brother in 2010, and said he appeared to be doing well.

"Look, the guy was a quarter-of-a-million-dollar guy a year over in America," he said.

The small Australian coastal community of Copacabana, where Peters lived, was buzzing with news of his arrest today.

His hairdresser, Tammy Schreiber, told The Associated Press he usually called every six weeks when he was in town, but she last saw him about four months ago. At the time, he was planning a trip to the US to visit his family and was eager to see his daughters, she said.

Ms Schreiber said Peters rarely talked about work, but gave the impression he was a "real entrepreneur type" and was always well-dressed. He did not interact much with members of the close-knit community of around 3,000, about 55 miles (90km) north of Sydney, she said.

"Really nice person - really helpful, liked to have a nice chat," she added. "A family man, loved his daughters... Even now if I see the papers and I see his face in there I still can't believe it."

New details of Miss Pulver's chilling ordeal were unveiled in the arrest complaint released yesterday.

The teenager was studying in her bedroom on August 3 when a man walked in carrying a black aluminium baseball bat and wearing a striped, multicoloured balaclava.

"Sit down and no-one needs to get hurt," he told her.

Miss Pulver sat on her bed and the intruder placed the bat and a backpack next to her. He forced a black box against her throat and looped a device similar to a bike chain around her neck.

The grey-haired man locked the box around her neck along with a lanyard and a plastic document sleeve. It contained a note, the email address and a USB digital storage device.

"Count to 200," he said as he left, taking the bat and backpack with him. "I'll be back... If you move, I can see you - I'll be right here."

Minutes later, Miss Pulver texted her mother and called her father. After telling both of them to call the police, she saw that the attacker's note said not to contact authorities.

The attacker's note said the device contained "powerful new technology plastic explosives" and was booby-trapped. Details for delivering "a defined sum" would be sent "once you acknowledge and confirm receipt of this message", it said. The USB device contained the same note.

The email address the attacker left was dirkstraun1840gmail.com. Dirk Struan is the main character in James Clavell's 1966 novel Tai-Pan, about a bitter rivalry between powerful Hong Kong traders after the end of the First Opium War.

Australian authorities determined that the email account was established on May 30 from an internet Protocol address linked to a Chicago airport. Travel documents showed that Peters had been at the airport that day.

The email account was accessed the day of the attack at 4.09pm from an IP address registered to a library in Kincumber, about 50 miles (80km) from the Pulvers' Mosman home. The account was accessed twice more before 6pm from an IP address registered to a video store a few miles from the library.

Surveillance cameras at the library and at a liquor store next to the video store recorded a man matching Peters' description around that time, the complaint said. A video store employee said a "well-dressed" man came in twice to use one of the store's internet computers because he was "waiting for an email".

Records from two stores show that, in July, Peters bought a black baseball bat, and a USB device and lanyard identical to those left with Miss Pulver, the complaint said.

The arrest complaint said Peters left Australia on a one-way flight from Sydney to Chicago on August 8 and flew to Kentucky the next day.

Peters showed no emotion in court yesterday, speaking quietly to his lawyer and glancing briefly at his ex-wife, Debra, who sat alone in the front row, weeping quietly.

Asked by reporters if he had any message for Miss Pulver, Peters said "I hope she's well" as he was placed into a police van.

His lawyer, Scott Cox, said Peters will contest the charges in Australia, but he did not know whether his client would fight extradition.

Authorities said Peters has been involved in various businesses, but would not elaborate. Mr Cox said his client is a lawyer who works as an investment banker in Australia and owns his own company.

Peters and his ex-wife divorced in 2007 and have three school-age children, Mr Cox added.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss