Army called in after man tries to sell WWII bomb on the internet

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The Independent Online

The response of most God-fearing mortals who discover a rusty unexploded Second World War bomb in a field would be to retire to a safe distance and dial the emergency services. But then most people are not father-of-three David McDaid.

Rather than head for a sandbag bunker when he found a 500lb German bomb on a farm in Donegal in the Irish Republic, Mr McDaid loaded the Nazi projectile on to a tractor trailer, photographed it in his girlfriend's garage and put it up for sale on a website.

It was only when customers browsing the DoneDeal.ie site, where Mr McDaid had placed an advert under the description "World War II bomb for sale", that the Irish Garda was alerted.

Instead of a prospective buyer knocking on the door, the entrepreneur and his partner, Breege Doherty, answered the door on Tuesday morning to find 15 worried soldiers from the Irish Army bomb disposal squad waiting outside.

Mr McDaid, 36, who had posted his advert on 3 May and found the authorities on his doorstep 24 hours later, said: "It was like the D-Day landings. I posted this bomb on the website and the next day a whole army platoon was at my door. It was like something you'd see in the films. There were about 15 soldiers dressed in the full gear, two jeeps and a lorry."

The corroded device is believed to have been on board a German bomber which crashed near the village of Glengad in northern Donegal. It lay around for 50 years before Mr McDaid collected the bomb and transported it to a shed at Ms Doherty's home in a nearby town.

Explaining how familiarity with the bomb had nullified any sense of its danger, Mr McDaid said: "That old bomb was lying about for years. It was said to be from a German plane that went down and was looted. We used to sit and play on it as children. Some quad bikers were even using it until recently as a bridge over a ditch."

The Irish authorities were alerted after customers browsing the pages of the firearms section of DoneDeal.ie used a reporting option to notify the owners, who in turn contacted police.

In the end, a close examination of the 1.5m-tall projectile for any explosive residue – presumably along with the absence of any ticking sounds – convinced the military experts that the bomb did not present an active risk. Mr McDaid said he was "mortified" by the episode.

Captain Pat O'Connor, a spokesman for the Irish Army, said: "We responded to a request from local gardai that we should investigate a device found locally. We deployed a team which found an inert World War II-era munition. Our team made it safe for transportation, then removed it to a secure location, where it was destroyed."

The advent of the internet has produced myriad examples of attempts to sell dangerous, illegal or just plain bizarre merchandise. In December 2008, the British musician Dante Knoxx offered his soul for sale at £25,000, while a year earlier eBay was forced to remove a 200-year-old cadaver that had once belonged to the University of Maryland from its listings.

DoneDeal.ie said: "When we were informed of the bomb we alerted the authorities immediately. Mr McDaid broke our terms and conditions and he has had his account with us terminated."

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