A man accused of abducting a 12-year-old boy on Queensland’s Gold Coast is due to face an extradition hearing in New South Wales today, and is later expected to be charged with kidnapping for ransom.
An amber alert was issued on Friday night, hours after the boy was 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.
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.
Detective Inspector Marc Hogan on Sunday said police were investigating whether the alleged extortion attempt was related to gambling debts.
“It’s the case that both parties were known to each other and there were financial issues involved in the lead-up to the abduction of the child,” he said.
Detective Inspector Hogan said it was in relation to “personal loans”.
“In the lead-up to the abduction requests were made for money and of course that sort of led us pretty quickly to identifying who we should be looking at,” he said.
Detective Inspector Hogan said police were also investigating the possibility of other people being involved.
Mr Zhang is expected to be extradited to Queensland today and charged at the Southport watch house.
Boy treated for scratches ‘consistent with being bound’
The boy’s family arrived in Grafton on Saturday and were reunited with him at the police station.
“He had some slight scratches consistent with being bound,” Detective Inspector Hogan said.
“As a precaution … the boy was taken to the hospital just for an examination.”
He said they managed to track the vehicle using traffic cameras.
“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.”
Detective Inspector Hogan said police waited several hours on Friday before alerting the public about the missing boy because they believed it could have been resolved.
He thanked the media, the public, and NSW police for their assistance.