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13-year-old tells how he found unexploded grenade in River Cam



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A teenager pulled an unexploded grenade from the River Cam during a magnet fishing trip with his mum.

Police had to call the bomb squad after Aaron Howlett, 13, of Chesterton, discovered the device as he walked across the footbridge at Coe Fen on Tuesday (July 14).

Mrs Howlett called the police after she sent a picture of the grenade to her husband, Sean, and he told her to “put it down on the floor and run!”.

Aaron Howlett, 13, who found the grenade while magnet fishing (38536969)
Aaron Howlett, 13, who found the grenade while magnet fishing (38536969)

Alicia, 37, who works as a housekeeper in a care home, said; “I thought I would take my son into town for some lunch and a walk because it was my day off. And I suggested we go magnet fishing as a way to tempt him off his Playstation and to get some fresh air.

“We had been two or three times before and found things like forks or spoons, but Aaron was hoping to find some coins. Although he did say he had seen some people online who had found guns and grenades. I just thought that of course we would never find anything like that.”

Magnet fishing involves using an extremely strong magnet on a rope and dredging rivers and canals to see what can be found. The pair walked along the river, throwing in the magnet at various pint with no luck, and then stood on the footbridge for one last throw.

Alicia said: “My son went, oh I'm bored now. Can we go home?

“So I said, just throw another one in. This will be the last one. I started pulling it up and because I was on the bridge I couldn't see it from where I was standing.

“But Aaron said Mum! You have picked up a grenade! And I said, no we haven't shut up, because he is like that anyway.

Grenade found by teenage magnet fisher Aaron Howlett in the River Cam (38537106)
Grenade found by teenage magnet fisher Aaron Howlett in the River Cam (38537106)

“He pulled it off the magnet and he turned it around. Because it was all corroded on one side you couldn't see what it was at first, but the other side luckily had the square patterns on it. The pattern of a grenade. I said, oh my God I think you are right!

“So he called his dad who is ex military and asked him what he thought it was. We got him on Facetime and he said yes it is a grenade. Put it down on the floor and run!”

They ran across the field until they felt they were at a safe distance and called the police. “At this stage I still didn’t really believe it,” says Alicia. “I thought we were bothering them for no reason. But I called them and the police came and cordoned it all off and said yes it is a grenade we need you to stand back.”

However, Aaron was always sure of his find. He said: “When I pulled it out I just knew it was a grenade instantly so I was really excited but at the same time a bit scared because I knew it could blow up.

“I pulled it out and I could feel how heavy it was so I knew it wasn't a decoy and I could see by the patterns and the top of it that it was a grenade.

“So I took my mum off the bridge where we caught it. We left it on the bridge and made sure no one went on it.

“I have told my friends and they were all really excited.”

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire police said: “We were called at 12.42pm on July 14 to reports of a grenade being found in Coe Fen, near The Fen Causeway, Cambridge.

“Officers were at the scene and a cordon was put in place as a precaution. The explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) was contacted to safely dispose of the grenade.”

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