Madeleine Pulver was home alone studying for her HSC exams when she was confronted by a man in a balaclava who used a bicycle chain to clamp a home-made bomb around her neck. He then pinned a note to her chest warning her not to call police or tamper with the bomb in any way, or it would explode. The intruder signed the note "Dirk Straun", a character in James Clavell's 1996 action novel Tai-Pan. Terrified, she had to endure 10 agonizing hours before police were finally able to remove the device, which proved to be harmless. The reason it took so long is because the police and the bomb squad had never seen anything like it before - they even rang UK bomb experts to get more information.
What a cruel joke to play on a young girl who will live with the trauma for the rest of her life. Police are treating the case as a "very serious attempted extortion" but no demands for money were made. So why was the daughter of a wealthy man targeted if not for money? One expert thinks it was done by an amateur who had seen the collar bomb on a CSI episode and thought it was a good way to become famous, but nobody knows for sure.
The father is rich and holds an important position in a large company - could he have offended someone enough for them to do this to his daughter? And what about Madeleine's friends and acquaintances, she's a very attractive young girl and is bound to have admirers. But one long-time school friend said she's popular with everyone at school and there hasn't been any falling out with other students that would make her the centre of such an attack.
The note also included instructions on how police could contact the intruder through the Internet. A memory stick containing a copy of the note was found inside the hoax bomb when it was finally removed. So it's a bizarre mystery and possibly one of the strangest cases Australia has ever seen.
Edit: Today, 20th November 2012, hoax collar bomber Paul Douglas Peters was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years jail. Judge Peter Zahra said the terror the teenager would have suffered for many hours "cannot be described."