Converted grenade sparks bomb squad alert at Portsmouth home

STUNNED police officers carrying out a probe over stolen bikes called the bomb squad to a home after spotting a grenade – which had been converted into a cigarette lighter.

Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 4:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 6:39 pm

Specialist Royal Navy divers were called to 77-year-old Michael Stanton’s home in Rosebery Avenue, Cosham, when city police spotted two legally-owned air rifles and the lighter.

Explosive experts were at the house for around 40 minutes inspecting the Mills-style shell, which had been converted into a lighter by Michael’s dad Arthur Manton who obtained the device while serving in the Second World War.

Speaking to The News, Michael said: ‘The police were conducting enquiries about stolen bikes when they noticed the grenade lighter and airguns and called in the firearms squad and the bomb disposal team.

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Michael Manton with his partner, Joelene Grant with the grenade-shaped lighter and an air rifle that the bomb disposal team were investigating. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Michael Manton with his partner, Joelene Grant with the grenade-shaped lighter and an air rifle that the bomb disposal team were investigating. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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‘I don’t feel anger over the incident. It’s similar to situations you hear about police being called to kids playing with toy guns. You just never know and the police are right not to take chances.’

Michael’s partner Joelene Grant, 43, was in the house at the time of the bomb alert - which had caused concern among neighbours.

She said: ‘Once they called in the bomb squad we had to remain in the front room during investigations. It was annoying as we couldn’t even go to the toilet.’

Royal Navy bomb disposal experts were called to Rosebery Avenue in Cosham on July 15 after police investigating stolen bikes found a grenade - which later turned out to be a cigarette lighter.

The pair’s lodger Jason Cowlishaw, 22, added: ‘I didn’t realise it was a lighter and it was a bit of a shock when the bomb disposal unit arrived. There were vans outside from the police, firearms unit and the bomb squad.’

Despite the disruption, Michael has no animosity towards the police and said they were ‘only doing their jobs’.

The Royal Navy confirmed its divers attended the incident for 40 minutes on Monday night. Police arrived at around 7pm asking about the bikes and called in specialists at 8.45pm.

Michael Manton with his partner, Joelene Grant with the grenade-shaped lighter and an air rifle that the bomb disposal team were investigating. Picture: Habibur Rahman

A navy spokeswoman said they were to ‘support Hampshire Constabulary with an investigation at the property’.

A Hampshire police spokesman added: ‘Officers were searching an address in Rosebery Avenue in relation to an earlier theft of items when they discovered what appeared to be a firearm and a grenade. They consulted with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team who decided to deploy to the scene.’

He said the items were later declared safe.

Michael Manton with his partner, Joelene Grant with the grenade-shaped lighter and an air rifle that the bomb disposal team were investigating. Picture: Habibur Rahman