Madeleine Pulver leaves court after the sentencing of collar bomb hoaxer Paul Peters. File picture
Madeleine Pulver leaves court after the sentencing of collar bomb hoaxer Paul Peters. File picture

Revealed: Secret police files from 'collar bomb’ case

Eight years ago, schoolgirl Maddie Pulver made headlines around the world after a balaclava-clad man invaded her Sydney harbourside mansion and placed what he claimed was a collar bomb around her neck in a bizarre extortion bid against her wealthy family.

The bomb turned out to be a sophisticated fake and the hoaxer disgruntled investment banker Paul Douglas Peters was arrested, charged and jailed in 2012 for 13 years for the plot which stunned a nation.

Now NSW Police has released a cache of files and photographs of the case, detailing some of the 10-hour ordeal the then HSC student and police were put through as bomb disposal experts analysed what they considered a complex explosive device.

Paul Douglas Peters fled to the US after the collar bomb attack and was arrested by the FBI.
Paul Douglas Peters fled to the US after the collar bomb attack and was arrested by the FBI.

"Madeleine Pulver, 17, contacted her parents by mobile phone asking them to contact police and send them to their home address urgently. A short time later Police from the Harbourside LAC responded and located the victim in her bedroom with what she described as a bomb locked around her neck," the police event dispatch note from 2.30pm, August 3, 2011 details.

The Harbourside Local Area Command officers first on scene spoke to the "very distraught" teenager and relayed back to commanding officers what they saw. It was a crime never seen before in Australia, but had occurred before in the US and South America, notably Mexico and Colombia.

 

The fake bomb used on victim Madeleine Pulver. Picture: NSW Police
The fake bomb used on victim Madeleine Pulver. Picture: NSW Police

 

A never before released x-ray of the device which terrorised the teenage victim for 10 hours. Picture NSW Police
A never before released x-ray of the device which terrorised the teenage victim for 10 hours. Picture NSW Police

Of the teenager's condition, the word "trauma" was simply noted.

Key words used by attending officers to describe the scene were "explosive", "intimidation", "danger" and "unusual act".

"She told police that a short time before an older male wearing a balaclava and carrying a baseball bat approached her and told her that he was not going to hurt her. He then locked a device around her neck so it could not be removed. He also put a USB thumb drive attached to a lanyard around her neck. A plastic sleeve was also attached to the lanyard which held a two page document outlining extortion demands and instructions."

Bomb squad officers arrive at the Mosman home at the height of the emergency. Picture: Supplied
Bomb squad officers arrive at the Mosman home at the height of the emergency. Picture: Supplied

The teenager was studying for HSC exams in her bedroom when Peters entered and told her "sit down and no one needs to get hurt" before attaching a box to her neck.

On the document left with her, the man claimed to be a former US Special Forces Green Beret munitions specialist who had built these bombs before.

"Act now, think later or you will inadvertently trigger a tragically avoidable explosion known in the American armed forces as a Brian Douglas Wells event," Peters wrote, referencing an infamous 2003 case in the US where an American man died from a detonating collar bomb in what was described as one of the most bizarre cases in FBI annals.

A police officer patrols a cordon as the drama unfolds.
A police officer patrols a cordon as the drama unfolds.

Police immediately dispatched officers from seven specialist police teams to the Mosman home including the police rescue and bomb disposal unit, counter terrorism command, police negotiators and an ambulance and fire brigade crew. A large perimeter was established around the Burrawong Ave home.

Among the files are a running sheet of actions police took and never seen before images of the device police found, including an X-ray image that speaks of the complexity bomb disposal officers were faced with as they tried to establish if it was real or not.

The hoaxer warned that if the family disclosed the plot it would trigger an immediate explosion so the police were not sure if he was watching from afar as officers looked to free Madeleine from the device.

Madeleine Pulver thanked police for their “truly extraordinary” efforts on the day of her ordeal. Picture: Facebook
Madeleine Pulver thanked police for their “truly extraordinary” efforts on the day of her ordeal. Picture: Facebook

The extortion note carried an email from a Dirk Struan (dirkstruan1840@gmail.com) which police quickly googled to discover it was the name of a tycoon in a James Clavell novel Tai-Pan, about warring businessmen and a price on the heads of their kids.

The family was told to confirm receipt of the extortion instructions by emailing that address, that put further pressure on police to resolve whether the bomb was real or a hoax.

The actual device had a coded touch pad to open the manufactured mini GunVault branded box claimed to contain the bomb and sheathed to her neck.

"After E 45343304 examination the device was declared innocuous and removed from the victim just prior to 12.00am on Thursday 4 August 2011," the log records.

 

A newly-released picture of the hoax bomb. Picture: NSW Police
A newly-released picture of the hoax bomb. Picture: NSW Police

 

A view of the hoax device showing the coded touch pad. Picture: NSW Police
A view of the hoax device showing the coded touch pad. Picture: NSW Police

 

Later the running sheet describes the arrest of 50-year-old Peters in his unsuspecting ex-wife's home in Louisville, Kentucky, in the US.

He was arrested on August 15. He pleaded guilty and with no known direct link to the family he never said why he did it.

 

Paul Douglas Peters is led from a court in Louisville, Kentucky, after he was tracked to the US and arrested. Picture: AP
Paul Douglas Peters is led from a court in Louisville, Kentucky, after he was tracked to the US and arrested. Picture: AP

 

Victim Madeleine Pulver was an HSC student when Peters struck. File pictures
Victim Madeleine Pulver was an HSC student when Peters struck. File pictures
The home where Madeleine was attacked. File pictures
The home where Madeleine was attacked. File pictures
Constable Karen Lowden stayed with Madeleine as the bomb squad worked to free her. File picture
Constable Karen Lowden stayed with Madeleine as the bomb squad worked to free her. File picture