By Chris Lau, CNN
(CNN) — An Australian man who faked his own kidnapping to spend time with his mistress on New Year’s Eve has been ordered to pay back the cost of the police operation to find him.
Paul Iera appeared at Wollongong Local Court in New South Wales on Tuesday and was told he’d have to pay the state government around $10,000 for 200 hours worth of police work after his partner reported him missing.
The 35-year-old tradesman went to meet his mistress on December 31, but lied to his partner about meeting with his “financial guy,” CNN affiliate 9 News reported.
In a moment of desperation, the pair sent his partner a text to buy time. But the message blew up – despite the somewhat easy-to-oblige ransom.
“Thank you for sending Paul to me, now payback is a ***** bye bye. We will keep him with us until the morning wen (sic) he gives us his bike we call it square,” the message said, according to 9 News.
Iera’s worried partner reported the matter to the police minutes before midnight, prompting officers to investigate, 9 news reported.
Iera and his mistress were intercepted the next morning at a police roadblock, but even then he maintained he had been taken by a group of unknown Middle Eastern men who later let him go.
But 12 days later, he was arrested and charged with making a false accusation with the intent to subject another person to investigation.
Iera was also sentenced to a three-year community correction order, though he was spared jail time for a crime Magistrate Michael Ong called “abhorrent,” according to 9 News.
Ong said the couple was motivated by the least compelling reason he had ever come across.
Iera’s lawyer Abbas Soukie issued a statement on his behalf, saying that his client was “pleased to have avoided” a jail sentence.
“Since the commission of the offence, Mr Iera has made tremendous rehabilitative progress and today’s outcome is reflective of the court’s attempt to promote that ongoing rehabilitation,” the statement said.
“Mr Iera 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.”
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