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Family face jail in $1m overseas kidnap and extortion case

What NOT to do: International child abduction and extortion attempt.

The Age (Melbourne)
29 December 2007

Family face jail in $1m kidnap case
By Kate McClymont

Four members of a prominent Sydney family are facing jail over the kidnapping of a family member and a $1 million ransom demand.

The case, with its allegations of death threats, phone taps and an international police hunt for the perpetrator, the son of a well-known barrister, is before the NSW criminal courts.

Due to the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act, the child involved, and therefore the others, cannot be named.

The de facto relationship of the young couple in question was on the rocks early last year. The husband's heavy drinking and addiction to an anti-anxiety drug had not helped, nor had the wife's discovery that her husband had not been studying law as he had claimed. For months he had been pretending to attend lectures.

According to a police statement tendered in Sydney's Central Local Court, he had also begun to assault his wife. One day in March last year, while he was out, she packed up and left.

According to court documents, the wife's family was wealthy and in July the husband demanded $780,000, alleging she had "ruined my life". He later reduced his demand to $520,000. She offered him $50,000 to leave her alone. Outraged, he began to plot.

By late October he had come up with a scheme. On October 23, he cleared out his bank accounts and the next day, with $7000 in cash, bought one-way tickets for himself and his child to Singapore.

Two days later he collected his child from a child-care centre and by 9.30pm they were flying to Singapore.

At 8.20 the next morning his wife received messages on her mobile and home phones demanding she put $1.3 million into the husband's ANZ account. If this was not paid by November 6, or if the police were called, he told his wife she would not see her child for two years.


The wife went straight to police. Strike Force Blantyre, consisting of NSW and federal police discovered the husband had organised a co-signatory on the bank account to which the ransom was to be paid. Police have also alleged that he arranged for mobile phones to be posted to members of his family for communicating with them undetected.

They also became aware that he was asking family members to contact police to find out whether they were investigating his ransom demands.

On November 18, police intercepted the man's call to his brother, who read to him a court order effectively ordering him to return the child and granting his wife sole custody.

As police listened to the call, they heard the pair discussing how no one would know that he was aware of the court order "unless they were recording this conversation".

Three days later the estranged husband spoke to his wife and reiterated his demands. Police were listening as he told her, "I have f— all to come back for."

A warrant for his arrest was issued on December 13 last year. Three days later police recorded him telling his sister-in-law he would have his wife killed.

In March he contacted his wife again, demanding the payment of $1 million plus $25,000 in "nuisance money".

At 8pm on March 23, after five months on the run, he was arrested in Phuket, having illegally entered Thailand via Malaysia.

He has been charged with detaining a person with intent to hold for ransom, demanding money with menaces and kidnapping.

Justice Michael Grove noted during his bail application: "A disturbing aspect of this case was the behaviour of some family members."

Those family members, the man's mother, brother and sister-in-law are facing the prospect of jail, having been charged with concealing a serious criminal offence and being accessories after the fact to kidnapping.

A committal hearing is scheduled to start in May.
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