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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - SYDNEY — An Australian man has been ordered to pay compensation to the police after he faked his own kidnapping.
Paul Iera, from Wollongong in New South Wales (NSW), came up with the plot in order to spend New Year's Eve with another woman instead of his partner.
A court ordered the 35-year-old to pay A$16,218 (£8,506; $10,334) to NSW police for their investigation work.
The Wollongong magistrate said Iera was "motivated by the least compelling reason he has ever come across".
On 31 December 2022, Iera sent a text message to his partner claiming to be from his kidnappers. The text said the imagined kidnappers would keep him "until the morning".
His partner then contacted police in the Lake Illawarra district, who found Iera in his van in his hometown of Dapto the following morning.
Officers put in more than 200 hours of police work investigating Iera's claim of kidnapping, with $16,218 spent on wages and obtaining phone records, local media reported.
Local newspaper the Illawarra Star said Iera had initially claimed he was taken by a group of unknown Middle Eastern men and later let go.
He was subsequently arrested in January and charged with making a false accusation with the intent to subject another person to investigation, which carries a seven year prison sentence.
Iera avoided jail time but was issued a three-year community correction order and told to undertake 350 hours of community service, as well as the compensation to police.
He also pleaded guilty to three unrelated charges of possessing an unauthorised firearm, a prohibited weapon without a permit, and ammunition without a licence.
Magistrate Michael Ong described Iera's actions as "abhorrent", Australian outlet 9News reported.
Abbas Soukie, the lawyer representing Iera, said he was "pleased" to have avoided jail time.
He said his client has made "tremendous rehabilitative progress" since the offence and that he "continues to enjoy the support of his family and partner, and wishes to move forward with his life as a productive member of the community", according to 9News. — BBC
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