An Australian investment banker who fixed a fake collar-bomb to the neck of a Sydney teenager in an extortion attempt and then fled to Kentucky, sparking an international manhunt, has been sentenced to 13 years in jail.
Paul Douglas Peters — described by the Brisbane Times as a wealthy businessman based mainly in the US — became internationally infamous when he broke into the luxury family home of schoolgirl Madeleine Pulver last August.
Wearing a rainbow-striped ski mask, he attached a device around Pulver's neck and departed the house, leaving a ransom note that said the device was a bomb that would explode if his demands weren't met.
The 18-year-old Pulver had been home alone studying at the time. She managed to call for help, but it took 10 hours before the bomb squad could confirm the hoax and remove the device from her neck, the Associated Press reported.
Sentencing judge Peter Zahra said:
"The terror instilled can only be described as unimaginable."
Peters was tracked down via email accounts to the Louisville, Kentucky home he shared with his ex-wife two weeks later, arrested and extradited to Australia.
Bizarrely, the court heard, Peters may have mistaken the Pulver residence for that of the beneficiary of a multimillion-dollar trust, Reuters reported.
Peters' attorneys argued that he was suffering from depression at the time and drinking heavily after splitting from his wife, and that he was writing a book and had taken on the persona of the villain in a book he was writing.
He also said he had no memory of the event.
However, prosecutors said there was a simpler explanation: he was having financial problems and Pulver was the unintentional victim of his criminal incompetence.
Regardless Zahra said:
"He would have appreciated the enormity of what he was doing and the terrible effect and consequences of his actions on the victim."