Teenager survives 10-hour ordeal with suspected bomb around neck

Two explosives experts had to remove a 'very elaborate, very sophisticated device' from her neck while negotiators kept her calm

The leafy Sydney surburb of Mosman had never seen anything like the drama unfolding inside one of its waterfront mansions yesterday. For 10 hours, experts worked to free an 18-year-old from a suspected bomb strapped to her neck by a balaclava-clad intruder, finally releasing her unharmed just before midnight.

The daughter of Bill Pulver, a prominent businessman and one of Sydney's richest men, had been at home alone when the man broke in at about 2pm. After attaching the device, he reportedly hung a note demanding money around Madeleine's neck, then left.

After the ordeal had ended, police said they had found no explosives in the device, but this only became apparent long after Ms Pulver had been freed.

The terrified girl, who is in her final year at a private school in nearby North Sydney, had managed to phone her father, who contacted police. Ambulances, rescue teams and bomb disposal officers raced to the house, and police sealed off the street, Burrawong Avenue, which is home to sports stars and socialites.

As curious neighbours gathered at the police cordon, and Madeleine's distraught parents, Bill and Belinda, waited outside their multimillion-dollar house, unable to speak to her, two explosives experts began the delicate operation of removing what police called a "very elaborate, very sophisticated device". The pair, along with two police negotiators in the same room, talked to Madeleine to keep her calm.

The Assistant Police Commissioner, Mark Murdoch, said she had done "a great job keeping her emotions in check". Last night, with the so-called collar bomb off, she was recovering back with her parents.

Many questions remained unanswered, though, including the identity of the masked intruder and what he expected to gain from the bizarre extortion attempt.

According to local media, a man who had allegedly tried to extort cash from several Sydney families in the past was re-arrested earlier this week. Police declined to say whether the man, who sent letters threatening children with violence unless payments were made, was connected to yesterday's events.

Other reports quoted police sources as saying that the intruder had warned Madeleine before he left that he could trigger the bomb by remote control, and that he had attached a microphone enabling him to hear everything she said.

Mr Pulver is chief executive of an international software company Appen. He and his wife have three other children, all boys.

"I've been doing this job for a long time, and this is certainly up there in terms of being unusual and difficult to deal with. I've never heard of anything like this in Australia before," Mr Murdoch said. Another senior New South Wales officer said that while collar bombs had been used during attempted bank robberies in the US, it was the first time such a device had been seen in Australia.

The explosives officers sought advice from British military bomb disposal experts, as well as the Australian Federal Police, as they worked to free Madeleine.

As the excitement died down in Mosman last night, Mr Murdoch said Madeleine was "in good hands. She's with mum and dad, who are the best people to be with at this time".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created