THIS is the mortar bought from a car boot sale as a child’s toy two years ago which sparked a major bomb scare.
The bomb squad was called to Bruntoft Avenue, in West View, Hartlepool, after a concerned parent spotted children playing with it yesterday.
Police were alerted about the device and rushed to the scene before calling in the bomb squad from Catterick Garrison, in North Yorkshire.
But mum-of-four Rachel Foster could not believe what was going on when she returned home to find police were in the street cordoning off an area ready for bomb experts to examine the mortar.
She said she bought the device from a car boot sale for her son Bailey, now seven, two years ago.
Rachel’s dad, Tony Smith, is currently serving in Afghanistan and she said she bought the old shell for her son as a toy after being shown a receipt at the car boot sale which stated the device was emptied of explosive and no longer live.
But it sparked the bomb scare after a parent had spotted Bailey and some other children in the street playing with it and feared it was a live mortar.
Rachel, 25, explained to police where she had got the device from and waited for the bomb squad to arrive.
They examined and carried out an x-ray on the device before quickly confirming it was inert.
Rachel was not allowed to have the device back afterwards but was relieved the situation had been resolved after a frightening afternoon.
The 25-year-old, who is also mum of Abbie, nine, Mollie, eight, Bailey and Cadie, five, said: “I came back home and loads of people in the street were telling me the police were looking for me.
“I had no idea what was going on.
“One of the officers then told me about the bomb and asked if it was mine and I explained where I got it from.
“My dad has been in the Army for years so my kids have always been really interested in it.
“Bailey loves playing soldiers so I bought it for him as a toy.
“The man who I bought it off showed me a receipt with stamps on to say that it was empty and that it wasn’t live.
“I’ve had it in my house for the last two years.
“I never thought it would cause anything like this.”
Police were initially alerted about the find at around 3.40pm and the bomb squad arrived on scene two hours later.
It did not take the experts long to examine the device and confirm that it was not dangerous.
Rachel, who is unemployed, added: “I can see why the police had to call the bomb squad.
“They are only doing their job and if they thought it could have been dangerous then they had to get it checked out.
“I’m just glad it was safe and no damage was caused, but I knew it wasn’t dangerous.”
A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “We received a call to say that children been found playing with a device.
“The bomb squad was alerted and when they arrived they confirmed it was inert and took the mortar away.”