A BUILDER has told how he picked up a mortar shell he discovered beneath rubble in his back yard.

Carl Outhwaite, 25, was dismantling an old shed in the yard at his home in Belvedere Road, Darlington, on Saturday afternoon when he spotted an 81mm shell in the rubble of the foundations.

He picked up the shell, thought to date from the Second World War, and moved it away from where he was working before calling the police.

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Bomb disposal experts from the Royal Logistics Corps, based in Catterick Garrison, were called to the scene and quickly established that it was inert, with no detonator or charge, before taking it away.

The street, in the South Park area, was cordoned off by police for more than two hours from 3.45pm while the bomb disposal team worked at the scene, attracting a large crowd of on-lookers.

Mr Outhwaite, who moved into the property with his partner Jenny Shaw and son Lewie, three, five months ago, said: “I knew exactly what it was straight away. I wasn’t that worried, I just made sure it was out of the way.

“It was under about an inch of rubble. I took the shed down and then rubbed my shovel over the top to even it out and it was there. I picked it up because if it was going to go off it would have already gone.

“In my eyes it wasn’t a problem, I wanted to get on with what I was doing, but I rang the 101 number and they asked me some questions about it and told me to move away.”

Mr Outhwaite, who works for Ellis Builders, said he had come across unexploded items on building sites and had seen the army bomb disposal team in action before.

Acting Inspector Andy Reeves, from Durham Police, said: "There was no risk to the public and no danger at any time. Officers were quickly on the scene and asked people to remain indoors.

"It was clearly a shell in the ground which caused a bit of concern but it was quickly resolved.”

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