Banker admits to neck bomb extortion

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An Australian investment banker has pleaded guilty to chaining a fake bomb to a young woman’s neck in a bizarre extortion attempt last year.

Paul Douglas Peters’s lawyer Kathy Crittenden pleaded guilty on his behalf in a Sydney courtroom to aggravated breaking and entering and committing a serious indictable offence by knowingly detaining 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver.

Pulver, the daughter of William Pulver, the CEO of an international software firm, was alone studying in her family’s Sydney mansion last August when the 51-year-old Peters, wearing a ski mask and wielding a baseball bat, entered the house and tethered a bomb-like device around her neck.

According to court documents, Peters entered the home through the unlocked front door and confronted the teen in her room. “Sit down and no one needs to get hurt,” he told her. He then attached the bomb-like device, a two-page typed letter and a USB stick to her neck, told her to count to 200 and left.

In the letter, Peters warned officials not to tamper with the device or it would explode, and said he would send further instructions for a “defined sum” of money, and in exchange, would provide the code to unlock the device.

The teenager, who was uninjured, managed to raise the alarm but it took bomb squad officers 10 hours to release her. It was subsequently discovered the device had contained no explosives.

Police have said surveillance footage showed Peters in several locations where they believe he accessed the email account.

Peters fled to the US and was arrested at his former wife’s home in Louisville, Kentucky, almost two weeks after the crime. He was extradited in September to Australia, where he has remained in custody.

Peters appeared in court by video from prison. He will appear in court next on March 16 for a pre-sentencing hearing.