Suspect in bomb scare extradited to Australia

Paul Douglas Peters, accused of strapping a fake bomb to an 18-year-old's neck, was returned to Australia  to stand trial.

Story highlights

  • Suspect extradited to Australia, where he is formally charged
  • Police say Paul Douglas Peters broke into the home of an 18-year-old Australian girl
  • He attached a fake bomb to the victim and left a note demanding money, police say
  • Peters was arrested in Kentucky last month
A businessman was returned Saturday to Australia, where he is accused of strapping a fake bomb around an 18-year-old girl's neck in an attempt to extort money from her family, authorities said.
Paul Douglas Peters, 50, was being held without bail, according to a statement from New South Wales Police. He had been extradited from Kentucky, more than 9,000 miles from suburban Sydney.
Authorities say Peters attempted to extort money from Madeleine Pulver's family in the suburb of Mosman by fastening a black box around her neck.
In a note, he said the box contained "powerful new technology plastic explosives" that would go off if Pulver did not follow his instructions, according to a complaint for provisional arrest filed in U.S. District Court in Louisville, Kentucky. Peters traveled to Kentucky after the alleged August 3 incident.
Those instructions included orders to write to an e-mail address and wait for details on handing over an unspecified amount of money.
Pulver spent nearly 10 agonizing hours in her bedroom as authorities tested the box to make sure it would not explode before removing it from her neck.
At the same time, authorities allege, Peters was stopping off in his four-wheel-drive Range Rover at a library and video store to check the e-mail account he had given Pulver and whiling away at least part of the time at a liquor store browsing for wine.
The suspect was formally charged Saturday with special aggravated break and enter and committing a serious indictable offense, kidnapping, and demanding money with menaces, New South Wales police said.
Peters' attorney, Scott Cox, has said the Australian investment banker and attorney will contest the charges.
"It is my understanding that he has no criminal history whatsoever," Cox said.
Peters is not accused of any U.S. offenses.
Investigators in Australia and the United States say they linked Peters to the e-mail address using video surveillance and access logs, and found credit card records showing that he had purchased a thumb drive, lanyard and baseball bat identical to those used in the extortion attempt, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, a man wearing a business shirt, slacks and a blue, yellow and white mask that covered everything but his mouth and a pair of "saggy and wrinkly" eyes on August 3 sauntered into Pulver's room, carrying a backpack and a black aluminum baseball bat.
He said he wasn't going to hurt her, then forced a black box around her neck using something like a bike chain and locked it, the complaint said. He attached a lanyard with a green thumb drive and a plastic document sleeve containing a note.
"Count to 200," the man said, according to the complaint. "I'll be back."
Pulver waited a few minutes, called out to the man but got no response. She contacted her parents and asked for police, and after nearly 10 hours, tests concluded that the device was not a bomb.
Peters is a globe-trotting investment banker who went to primary school in Hong Kong, attended college in Sydney, ran investments in Malaysia and spent time in the United States, where his ex-wife and three school-age children live, according to authorities and his attorney.