Letter bomb injures six-year-old boy

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The Independent Online
A hunt master and his six-year-old son told how they were caught in the blast from a letter bomb in the bedroom of their home yesterday.

David Woolley, 38-year-old master of the Cheshire Hunt, revealed that he almost gave the package to his son, Joshua, to open, believing it was a get-well card for the boy who has been recovering from an eye operation.

The device, posted to Mr Woolley's farmhouse home at Huxley, near Chester, was one of four delivered to people connected with foxhunting in the county yesterday morning.

Army bomb disposal experts and police dealt with packages that were sent to addresses in Nantwich, Worleston near Crewe, and Utkinton, near Tarporley. A fifth device, sent to a home in Spurstowe, Crewe, yesterday afternoon, was also made safe by bomb disposal experts with a controlled explosion.

The hunt master and his son were not so lucky. Mr Woolley suffered severe burns to his hand and Joshua, who was standing two feet from him, suffered slight eye injuries and must return to hospital tomorrow to assess any permanent damage.

Mr Woolley was still in bed when the post came at 8.15am, and the letters were brought up to the bedroom.

"Joshua had opened two letters and he could very easily have opened the third one," he said.

"I can barely remember the explosion, I can recall very little of it. I remember the whole bedroom being on fire and that is as much as I can recall."

Joshua said: "Daddy had given me a letter and I went to show it to my brother and then he gave me another letter. I was opening the letter that daddy gave me and then daddy opened the bomb.

"The worst part was when daddy screamed," he added. "My brother was more frightened than me."

Mr Woolley said: "I feel that anyone who indiscriminately sends bombs through the post that can be opened by a six-year-old child ... it is appalling. Nothing that the saboteurs do surprises me.

"I've got extensive burns to my hand and my arm, but what I am really concerned about is that it could have been my son."

Mr Woolley has been hunting for 30 years and says he will continue, adding: "This has not deterred me at all."

"Everyone is entitled to an opinion but I don't feel that sending a bomb to someone's house and having it explode in front of their children is the right way to further an argument at all," he said.

"I would appeal to anyone who agrees with me to come forward and contact the police."

Police urged other people connected with hunting to be vigilant, and appealed for anyone with information to ring a hotline number on 01244 613131.

Cheshire's Chief Constable, Mervyn Jones, said that he was "extremely concerned" about the incidents.

"This is an emotive area, but a protest in the form of a criminal act which endangers the life of a father and his young child will not be tolerated in Cheshire and every effort will be made by my officers to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"Whatever the motive, the endangerment of life is a serious criminal offence."