Bomb disposal team still in South Yorkshire

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Bomb disposal experts are still at a South Yorkshire house where an arsenal of First and Second World War weapons was discovered.

The Ministry of Defence sent the specialist team to the property in Sheffield Road, Penistone, after police found munitions and weapons when neighbours raised concerns for the welfare of a man who had not been seen for some time.

When they searched the man’s house, where they found his body, they also discovered the weapons he used to collect as a hobby.

Police are not treating the man’s death as suspicious but they put a cordon in place around his home and evacuated residents as a safety precaution because of his stash of weapons.

Chief Inspector Andy Hodgkinson said: “There was a whole house full of stuff – munitions, firearms, shells and grenades.

“The occupant of the house had clearly been collecting these things for an entire lifetime.

“The Ministry of Defence were here for most of yesterday and cleared out everything which was safe. But there are still some items there they are not happy with.

“They will be removing those more dangerous items at some point today and will carry out a controlled explosion.

“We will then be bringing in officers to dispose of the fire arms at some point too.

“One of our first main concerns was that some of the mortar shells indicated that they might contain chemicals like mustard gas. Luckily, though, scans of the weapons indicated that wasn’t the case.”

Discussing the legality of owning such items, Mr Hodgkinson said: “It is legal to keep such items but they have to be certified as safe. Unless the weapons are certified then they are classed as prohibited weapons.

“When officers get chance to search the house will we will be looking for certificates but it will be sometime before we are clear to do that.

“There are some very valuable items in the house. We are now working with the family because they are keen to get some of the items back to them. But we can obviously only do that when we know they are safe for definite.”

He urged other collectors of military memorabilia to contact South Yorkshire Police if there are any concerns about the safety of any items.

“If people who have collections of Second World War and First World War weapons and have concerns about safety of their collections, we have specialist firearm officers who would be happy to look at them and give people advice,” he said.

The dead man, who was single and lived alone, has not yet been named.