A “bomb” attached to the neck of an Australian teenager in Sydney turned out
to be a hoax, thought to be part of an elaborate extortion attempt.
Yesterday, Madeleine Pulver, 18, from the exclusive Sydney suburb of Mosman,
called police to say that a masked intruder had broken into her home and
attached an explosive device – or “collar bomb” – to her neck.
As the teenager’s parents waited outside in tears, neighbours were evacuated
and streets blocked off while Sydney
police worked to defuse the “bomb” during a tense, 10-hour operation.
The British military’s bomb-disposal team was called on for advice on how to
deal with the situation.
Police said they had never seen anything like it in Australia before, describing
the fake bomb plot as a "very, very elaborate hoax".
"It was made and certainly gave the appearance of a legitimate
improvised explosive device. We had to treat it seriously until we could prove
otherwise and that's exactly what we did and that's why it took so long," New
South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said.
“Certainly anything that has taken us and our bomb techs, who are amongst
the best in the business anywhere in the world, taken them 10 hours to come to
grips with and make sure the young lady is safe, is a big task.”
Police revealed that the fake bomb had been attached to Madeleine Pulver with
a chain. A detailed warning of how the device might go off was left in the
"The offender went to a lot of trouble for a particular reason, but
what that reason was, police are still working to determine," Murdoch said.
"There were some instructions left by the offender at the scene last
afternoon and those instructions will provide us with further lines for
William Pulver, 53, described as one of Sydney’s wealthiest men, runs a
successful software company and his wife Belinda, 51, has a landscaping
business. Madeleine is a student at the private Wenona School in Sydney.
In a media conference, Bill Pulver said: “I can tell you that we
as parents are extraordinarily proud of Maddie.
"I think she has woken up this morning in pretty good spirits, she's a
little tired, a little sore from holding this damned device in place for about
10 hours but she is now, as we are, eager for her to get on with her life.”
Criminologist Professor Paul Wilson told 1233's Jill Emberson that although there
have been many extortion attempts in Australia, “having a bomb as the weapon,
or an alleged bomb, is very, very rare.”