The tale of the teenager who had a fake bomb strapped to her by a masked intruder in Sydney's leafy suburbs gets curiouser and curiouser. A note left at the scene demanded no money, it emerged yesterday, and was reportedly signed in the name of Dirk Struan, a ruthless businessman in James Clavell's 1966 novel, Tai-Pan.
Emerging from her house in affluent Mosman yesterday for the first time since Wednesday's ordeal, 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver told reporters: "I'm all right." A young policewoman who supported her for the first three hours described her as "the strongest, bravest girl in the world". It took bomb squad officers 10 hours to remove the device and establish that it was harmless.
New South Wales police – who appear to be struggling to make progress – said they were refraining from further comment. But they confirmed that the note – attached to Ms Pulver's chest – made no demands for money, despite the Pulvers being one of Sydney's wealthiest families. Some detectives may aim to spend the weekend combing Tai-Pan for clues. In stories not denied by police, media have reported the man signed himself Dirk Struan, the central character in Clavell's novel, set in 19th-century Hong Kong.
Based on Scottish trader William Jardine, Struan is "a pirate, an opium smuggler, a master manipulator." He is also a victim of extortion, involving threats made to his wife and daughter.