NO EXPLOSIVE FOUND
No explosives found on 'collar bomb' strapped to schoolgirl heiress
ASSISTANT Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch said it was only after the bomb was removed from around teenager Madeleine Pulver's neck that officers determined "there was no explosive found".
He said the bomb was "very elaborate, very sophisticated" and it took "the best we have in our NSW police force bomb technicians ... it took their best to free the girl and make her safe after 10 hours".
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The unprecedented incident has shaken the prestigious North Shore community, which locals described as "quite private".
"Of course we are shocked," one neighbour said.
Mr Murdoch this morning gave an insight into how Madeline was coping as experts frantically worked on the safest ways to defuse the bomb.
"From what Madeline told police when they first arrived, that caused us some level of significant concern," Mr Murdoch told 2GB's Alan Jones.
"She was seated in the house ... she was clearly upset".
Mr Murdoch said a young female officer sat with Madeline "talking to her and keeping her calm".
He said two hours in, the female officer was replaced by two negotiators and two technicians "who worked in relays to free her".
Burrawong Ave, Mosman remains a hive of police activity this morning as detectives continue to scour the Pulver mansion.
Police remain inside the house of Madeleine Pulver only hours after she was freed from an elaborate collar bomb.
The intersection of Kardinia Rd and Barrawong Ave remains closed to traffic and police continue to conduct their investigation.
A police van and three police cars remain at the scene as detectives continue to scour the house for clues.
The Pulver family have not returned to the house since Madeline was freed from the bomb shortly after 12.30am and taken to hospital for a check-up.
A neighbour this morning said he was shocked at what unfolded in the prestigious street but said he did not know the Pulver family well as they had only moved in a few years ago.
Forensics officers left the the hospital overnight with evidence bags, possibly containing victim's clothing and other remained outside the home fingerprinting a white Ford station wagon.
Bomb specialists were able to release Madeleine from the collar bomb just after midnight after getting expert advice from the Australian Federal Police bomb centre and the British military.
The device, which police were unsure was explosive, was still intact and will undergo thorough forensic examination.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said Madeleine's parents William and Belinda Pulver - one of Sydney's wealthiest families - were "immensely relieved" and that the girl was safe.Mr Murdoch described it as a "very elaborate device" and police were continuing to investigate an elaborate extortion but would not reveal details of the threat or demands.
During the 10-hour ordeal at the family mansion in Burrawong Ave, Mosman, Madeleine was fed, given water, kept warm and was in the company of specialist police officers while her parents were kept away.
Mr Murdoch said she was in a "uncomfortable position" during the "unusual incident" and was taken to hospital for assessment early today.
"She has disclosed a lot of information to police. That information will now be acted upon," Mr Murdoch said.
"The family are at a loss to explain this. You would hardly think someone would go to this much trouble if there wasn't a motive behind it."
He was not aware of "anything like this happening in NSW or this country before".
He said the police have not had contact with who is responsible but "want to get our hands on them pretty smartly".
Earlier, police were called to the Mosman mansion by Mr Pulver after a frantic phone call from his daughter just before 2.30pm.
Officers arrived and immediately called for specialised help after realising the gravity of the situation.
Experts from the NSW Bomb Squad spent a number of hours inside the house examining the device while it remained secured around the terrified teenager's neck.
X-rays were taken of the device to allow a more detailed check before any attempt to defuse it was made.
As the drama continued to unfold, Mr Murdoch appeared before media outside the mansion, describing the situation as a "very serious and sensitive matter".
Mr Murdoch said police were speaking with a number of agencies, "not internationally, but within Australia, the AFP in particular" but that the AFP were "making inquiries internationally".
Mr Murdoch said there were four bomb disposal specialists and negotiators in the room and it was getting cold in the house.
"We've got a perimeter in place to protect the scene, to protect other people from being injured," he said.
"We have evacuated nearby residences. It would be foolish to put other people at risk, parents or not."
The Daily Telegraph understands the extortionist, clad in a balaclava, entered the house shortly after 2pm and took Madeleine hostage.
It is believed he ordered her to a room towards the front of the house and directed her to sit down while he strapped a device around her neck.
While he was rigging up the explosive, the man ordered a terrified Madeleine to be limited in what she told police, or else he would remotely detonate the bomb.
It is understood the girl was told she could ring police to alert them to her predicament, but she must not give too much detail about him or their conversation. The man told Madeleine he would be able to hear her and what she told police, indicating he had planted listening devices within the house. With the bomb secured, he then left.
Mr Murdoch said that the Robbery and Serious Crimes Squad, which also deals with extortion attempts, was called to head the investigation.
"We don't know what we are dealing with ... we are working very hard to find out exactly what it is and, equally, what it isn't," he said.
The teenager did not move from a room at the front of the house during the ordeal last night. Asked whether the girl could move away from the bomb, Mr Murdoch said: "No, she can't get away from it."
Madeleine, who celebrated her 18th birthday last month, is in her final year at the prestigious Wenona School in North Sydney.
Madeleine's parents remained outside a perimeter set up a safe distance away.
Police described the scenario as one never before experienced in Australia.