An Australian investment banker who admitted chaining a fake bomb to a Sydney teenager as part of a bizarre extortion plot was sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison on Tuesday.
Madeleine Pulver, then 18, was studying at home alone in her family's mansion in August 2011 when Paul Douglas Peters walked in wearing a rainbow-striped ski mask and carrying a baseball bat. He tethered a bomb-like device to her neck along with a ransom note and then slipped away, leaving the panicked teen alone. It took a bomb squad 10 hours to remove the device, which contained no explosives.
Peters, 52, failed to convince the judge that his made-for-Hollywood crime was the result of a psychological meltdown sparked by the breakdown of his marriage and a failing career. Instead, the judge said, the once-successful businessman and father of three had shown no remorse, lied to police and was largely motivated by one thing: money.
"The offender intended to place the very young victim in fear that she would be killed," New South Wales state District Court Judge Peter Zahra said. "The terror instilled can only be described as unimaginable."
Pulver hugged relatives after the sentence was read. Her father, Bill Pulver, wiped away tears. Peters remained stone-faced and said nothing.
"I'm pleased at today's outcome and that I can now look to a future without Paul Peters' name being linked to mine," Madeleine Pulver said outside court. "For me, it was never about the sentencing, but to know that he will not reoffend. And it was good to hear the judge acknowledge the trauma he has put my family and me through."
Zahra gave Peters less than the maximum sentence of 20 years, acknowledging he'd pleaded guilty and was likely depressed at the time.
After attaching the device to the teen, Peters fled to the U.S., but police used an email address he left on the ransom note to track him down. Authorities arrested him two weeks later at his ex-wife's home in Louisville, Kentucky, and extradited him to Australia. He pleaded guilty in March to aggravated break and enter and committing a serious indictable offence.