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‘Balloon boy hoax’ parents pardoned in Colorado


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image captionRichard and Mayumi Heene told police their son had floated away on a helium balloon

In 2009 a US couple told the world their son had been carried away by a balloon. Rescue services scrambled to rescue him, but it was revealed to be a hoax and the pair were convicted.

After 13 years, the couple have now been granted a pardon by the governor of Colorado.

“We are all ready to move past the spectacle from a decade ago,” Governor Jared Polis said.

The pair served jail time and had criminal records.

The story began when Richard and Mayumi Heene told police that their six-year-old son had floated away in a helium balloon.

US networks devoted hours of coverage to the drama showing footage of emergency services and two National Guard helicopters deployed to save the child as an enormous balloon floated away.

Denver International Airport was temporarily shut down during the incident.

When the balloon landed in a field, there was no sign of him and authorities feared for his safety.

But the boy was later found in the attic of his home in the town of Fort Collins.

The family were being interviewed on national TV show Larry King Live by prominent journalist Wolf Blitzer when the young boy appeared to out his parents’ hoax.

When asked why he was hiding at home, he said to his father: “You guys said that, um, we did this for the show.”

Following the revelation that it was staged, police said the house of Richard and Mayumi Heene was searched for evidence that the family was hoping to use the incident to obtain a lucrative contract for a television reality show.

“The plan was to create a situation where it appeared Falcon was in the craft and that his life was in jeopardy in order to gain a lot of publicity with the ultimate goal of gaining some notoriety and perhaps furthering their careers by gaining a contract for a reality TV show,” Colorado sheriff Jim Alderden said at the time.

Police had also found that the balloon was extremely flimsy, made of plywood and cardboard, and held together with “string and duct tape”.

On Wednesday the couple, along with 20 other individuals convicted of unrelated crimes, received a pardon from Colorado’s governor.

“Richard and Mayumi have paid the price in the eyes of the public, served their sentences, and it’s time for all of us to move on,” Governor Polis said in a statement.

Mr Heene served a month in jail and Mrs Heene was jailed for 20 days for filing a false report. They were also ordered to pay $36,000 (£26,000).

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