SYDNEY: A man who strapped a fake collar bomb around the neck of a Sydney schoolgirl and then fled to the US was jailed for 13-and-a-half years yesterday after an Australian court ruled he had instilled unimaginable fear in 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.

Police in the US arrested Paul Douglas Peters in Kentucky about two weeks after the incident after he was tracked down through e-mail accounts.

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

District Court Judge Peter Zahra said: “The fear instilled can only be described as unimaginable.”

He sentenced 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, Pulver said she was pleased Peters acknowledged the effect of his crime on her family, and that he had been jailed.

“It was good to hear the judge acknowledge the trauma [Peters] has put my family and me through,” she said. – Reuters