An Australian man faked his own kidnapping to celebrate New Year's Eve with his girlfriend

Police in Australia / Photo EPA-EFE/DAN HIMBRECHTS

An Australian man has been ordered to pay compensation to police after faking his own kidnapping. Paul Ira, from Wollongong in New South Wales, hatched the plot to spend New Year's Eve with another woman instead of his partner, reports BBC.

The court ordered the 35-year-old to pay A$16.218 to New South Wales police for their investigative work. A judge in Wollongong said Iera was "motivated by the least relevant reason he has ever encountered".

On December 31, 2022, Iera sent a text message to his partner in which he claimed to have been his kidnapper. The message stated that the would-be kidnappers would hold him "until the next morning." His partner then contacted Lake Illawarra police, who found Iera in his van in his home town of Dapto the next morning.

Officers put more than 200 hours of police work into investigating Iera's kidnapping claim, with $16.218 spent on wages and obtaining phone records, local media reported. Local newspaper Illawarra Star reported that Iera initially claimed he was taken by a group of unknown Middle Eastern men and later let go.

He was then arrested in January and charged with false accusation with intent to implicate another person in the investigation, which carries a seven-year prison sentence. Iera avoided jail time, but was given 350 hours of community service, as well as police compensation.

He also pleaded guilty to three unrelated charges of possessing an unauthorized firearm, a prohibited weapon without a license and ammunition without a license. Judge Michael Ong described Iera's actions as "disgusting," Australian media outlet 9News reported. Abbas Suki, the lawyer representing Iera, said he was "pleased" to have avoided jail time.

He said his client had made "tremendous rehabilitative progress" since the offense and "continues to enjoy the support of his family and partner and is keen to get on with his life as a productive member of the community".

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