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Australia’s hoax collar bomber to spend at least 10 years in jail

Madeleine Pulver, centre, her father Bill and mother Belinda leave the New South Wales State District Court, after the sentencing of Paul Douglas Peters, in Sydney, Australia, Nov. 20, 2012. Peters had chained a fake bomb to Madeleine in August 2011 as part of a bizarre extortion plot.

Rob Griffith/AP

A man who strapped a fake collar bomb around the neck of a Sydney schoolgirl and then fled to the United States was jailed for 13 1/2 years on Tuesday after an Australian court ruled he had instilled unimaginable fear into his victim.

The case sparked an international manhunt and led to a tense 10 hours for teenager Madeleine Pulver after the man broke into her family's luxury home last August and strapped what he said was a bomb around her neck, leaving a note demanding money.

The collar bomb turned out to be fake.

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Police in the United States arrested Paul Douglas Peters, 52, in Kentucky about two weeks after the incident after he was tracked down through email accounts.

Defence lawyers said Mr. Peters had suffered depression in the months before the attack and had no memory of his actions, but prosecutors said he had planned to target a neighbour of the Pulver family, but broke into the wrong house.

"He would have appreciated the enormity of what he was doing and the terrible effect and consequences of his actions on the victim," District Court Judge Peter Zahra said. "The fear instilled can only be described as unimaginable."

He sentenced Mr. Peters, who pleaded guilty to aggravated break and enter, to 13 years and six months in prison, with a minimum 10 years to be served before he can apply for parole.

Outside the court, Ms. Pulver said she was pleased Mr. Peters would not be able to reoffend, and that the court acknowledged the impact of his crime on her family.

"It was good to hear the judge acknowledge the trauma (Peters) has put my family and me through," she said.

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