true crime

In 2011, Maddie Pulver was home alone when a man broke in and strapped a collar bomb on her neck.

When Madeleine Pulver was in year 12, a balaclava clad man broke into her Sydney home one afternoon and held her hostage, strapping a collar bomb to her neck.

Along with the device, he strapped a USB and a ransom note to her before he disappeared from the scene.

After a 10 hour ordeal which included the bomb disposal unit, counter terrorism command, and police negotiators, it was determined the bomb was fake.

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The Daily Telegraph have new details about that day eight years ago, after gaining access to a dispatch note written by an officer on the scene at the time.

It revealed that Maddie was forced to call her parents, Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver and his wife Belinda, to tell them she was being held hostage.

The officer’s note said that she was ‘distraught’ and spent the entire ordeal thinking she was going to die.

The publication also have an X-ray photo of the ‘bomb’ which showed the intricate goings on inside the fake device, details which made it look real.

Two weeks after the terrifying ordeal, police arrested investment banker Paul Douglas Peters in Kentucky, in the United States, where he’d fled to a few days after the incident. Police found him because of an email address he’d used on the random note.

He was hiding out in his ex-wife’s home and had absolutely no connection to the Pulver family. He plead guilty to the charges against him – aggravated break and enter and detaining for advantage, telling the court he had “difficulty coming to terms with what he did”.

His psychiatrist told the court Peters remembered walking up the steps of the Pulver property at 2pm on that 2011 afternoon, but his next memory jumped to 2 1/2 hours later at his home. It was revealed the then 52-year-old was likely suffering from bipolar disorder.

Paul "Doug" Peters
Paul "Doug" Peters, Image: Getty.
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But the prosecutor argued that Peters simply got the wrong victim and made up "not remembering" to save face, instead of admitting to his bungled plan. They said his intended victim was the Pulver's neighbour, a man Peters had previously done business with in Hong Kong and who he knew was very wealthy.

The judge called the attack "precise and premeditated" sentencing him on November 20, 2012, to 13 years and six months in prison.

"The offender placed the victim in fear that she was going to die in order to extort money from her family.

"The victim was vulnerable, being entitled to the sanctuary of her own home… the terror she experienced can only be described as unimaginable," Judge Peter Zahra said during sentencing.

With the court case behind her, Maddie went on to study at the University of Technology in Sydney which included a stint over in Denmark.

She's now back in Sydney working as an interior designer and describes herself as "hardworking, positive and adaptable," on her LinkedIn.

Peters tried to appeal his sentence in 2013, claiming his punishment was "too severe" but the state's highest court rejected his plea.

The 2011 fake collar-bomb attack wasn't the Pulver family's last experience with crime.

In 2017, Maddie's father Bill Pulver's BMW was allegedly stolen from a car wash by a man suspected of going on a stabbing rampage at a gym.

"At the end of the day it's only a car," Mr Pulver told the Daily Mail at the time.

"You really worry about people being stabbed at the Brookvale gymnasium... my car is the least of all worries," he said.

Mr Pulver added that he had "no idea" why a strange criminal act had once again touched his family.

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