Lad, 9, caught WW1 bomb on fishing trip before armed cops swooped on property

A nine-year-old lad given a magnet fisher for Christmas almost had an explosive start to the new year when caught a WW1 bomb – leading armed cops to swoop on his house.

William Hartley netted the deadly munition in a canal with his magnet fishing equipment.

The youngster had been given the gear as a Christmas present and had spent the next few days recovering “old chains and pennies” with the help of his grandad.

But when William hauled in the undetonated charge and then brought it back home, his concerned dad Andrew Hartley, 41, called the police.

Armed cops descended on the house and began to guard the deadly munition while bomb disposal officers conducted extensive checks on it.

And a specialist officer explained to the shocked father that there could have been fatalities if the hundred-year-old device had been accidentally triggered.

Andrew said: “The top part hadn’t detonated, and that is a shrapnel bit, and he said if that had gone off, it would have really done some damage to someone.

“He was basically army, and he explained to William that it was a WW1 bomb. He wasn’t sure how it got to the canal.”

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Andrew, a teaching assistant from the village of Hest Bank, Lancashire, said that wildlife-loving William had got the magnet fishing device in his stocking after asking for it for Christmas.

While he’d previously only found bits of scrap metal, the primary school student came across something that looked suspiciously like a bomb during a fishing trip on December 28.

The concerned dad rang the police to let them know about his son’s discovery.

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At 10:15 pm, armed officers suddenly showed up outside his home and began to seal off the area around the garage where they’d left the bomb, so no one could go in or out.

Andrew said: "We showed an officer the bomb, and he said: ‘Yeah, I’m a little bit concerned about this. I’m going to have to take pictures and email them to the bomb disposal unit.’

“They came back and said they were around 80 per cent sure it was safe but 20% sure it was not safe, so they had to send for the bomb disposal unit.

“There were armed police there. They said we’ve got to stay here to make sure no one goes into the garage, or no one takes it.”

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Eventually the live explosive was shipped away to be destroyed, much to the relief of Andrew who was put on standby to “evacuate” his home during the 10-hour ordeal.

Despite the chaos, William said he was very pleased with his find and the success of his magnetic fishing gear.

Speaking after the incident, he said he was looking forward to using it again, adding: “It was the best Christmas present ever.”

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