‘Gambling debt’ behind alleged kidnapping plot
A GOLD Coast schoolboy was kidnapped, bound and held captive over a multimillion-dollar gambling debt, police will allege.
The terrifying ordeal ended near a police roadblock in the northern NSW town of Grafton on Saturday afternoon, almost 24 hours after the 12-year-old high school student was allegedly dragged screaming into a car outside his Gold Coast home after school on Friday.
It is understood he was found lashed to a headrest by the neck in the back seat.
Detectives will now apply to extradite a 53-year-old Australian man of Chinese heritage to face a charge of kidnapping for ransom.
It is understood police will allege the kidnapping was part of a chilling plot to settle a gambling debt believed to be about 20 million Chinese yuan ($4 million) racked up by the boy's father.
Detective Inspector Marc Hogan of Gold Coast Police would not go into details on the alleged extortion attempt, but admitted it was a "substantial amount".
"We will allege that in the lead-up to the abduction, requests were made for money,'' Insp Hogan said.
He said a keen-eyed member of the public who had seen media reports saw the Jeep used in the boy's abduction and phoned police.
Police then tracked the car using a traffic camera network before setting up roadblocks.
"In the lead-up to the abduction, we will allege that requests were made for money and of course that is what led to quickly identifying who we should be looking at," Insp Hogan said.
Police found the man with the schoolboy in South Grafton.
The man was arrested in the street and the vehicle recovered, while the young boy was taken to hospital in Grafton for observation and treatment for minor injuries.
Detectives last night accompanied the boy's family to Grafton.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail before leaving the Gold Coast, his father said he was "very happy" to be on his way to reunite with his son, but he did not wish to comment further.
The boy was yesterday described as "an extraordinary young man", who was heavily involved in sports and his school community.
Police are investigating whether other people were involved in the kidnapping.
"We're going to make sure that anyone else who may have been involved is held to account," Insp Hogan said.
One witness aid she was in shock to think something like that could happen in a quiet estate with new homes where the speed limit is just 8km/hr.
"You see that sort of stuff in the movies, but to see if actually happen," said the witness, who did not wish to be named.
Students at the boy's school will this week be offered counselling to help come to terms with the shocking attack incident.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.