Accused kidnapper extradited from NSW over 12yo boy snatched on Gold Coast
Zhen Jie Zhang arriving on the Gold Coast with Queensland police on Monday afternoon. (ABC News: Tom Forbes)
A man accused of abducting a 12-year-old boy on the Gold Coast has arrived in Queensland after facing an extradition hearing in New South Wales earlier today.
Zhen Jie Zhang, 53, will be formally charged with kidnapping for ransom ahead of appearing in Southport Magistrates Court tomorrow.
Police issued an amber alert on Friday night, hours after the boy was allegedly pulled into a car outside his home at Mudgeeraba about 3:30pm.
He was found about 12:00pm on Saturday some 240 kilometres away in Grafton, New South Wales, after a member of the public called police having seen the dark blue 2013 Jeep Compass mentioned in the amber alert.
Mr Zhang faced the Grafton Local Court today, where Magistrate Karen Stafford approved his extradition to Queensland.
The extradition hearing in Grafton was delayed earlier this morning pending the arrival of an interpreter.
His lawyer said the extradition was unopposed
Throughout the hearing, Mr Zhang sat impassively in court in handcuffs and dressed in prison greens,
CCTV image of the Jeep SUV that abducted the boy outside his house. (Supplied: Queensland Police Service)
Speaking through a Cantonese interpreter, Mr Zhang told the hearing: “I had no intention of doing what I did”.
He then asked if he could explain his case.
Magistrate Stafford told Mr Zhang he could do that in Queensland.
Mr Zhang is due to appear before the Southport Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Accused allegedly known to boy’s family
Police said Mr Zhang was known to the boy’s family and allegedly made requests for money in the lead-up to the alleged abduction.
Queensland police taking Mr Zhang into custody after the Grafton extradition hearing. (ABC News: Helen Merkell)
Detective Inspector Marc Hogan on Sunday said police were investigating whether the alleged extortion attempt was related to gambling debts.
He said police believed both parties were known to each other and there were financial issues involved in the lead-up to the abduction of the child.
Detective Inspector Hogan said it was in relation to “personal loans” and police were also investigating the possibility of other people being involved.
Boy treated for scratches
The boy’s family arrived in Grafton on Saturday and were reunited with him at the police station.
“He had some slight scratches,” Detective Inspector Hogan said.
“As a precaution … the boy was taken to the hospital just for an examination.”
He said they used traffic cameras to track the vehicle.
“New South Wales police put up a number of staging points along the highway, and just through a matter of trial and error we narrowed it down to a certain area,” he said.
“A member of the public recognised the vehicle, called it into police, and the boy was located in the vehicle with the male person.