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Treasure hunter who sparked Surbiton grenade scare "warned by police" to stop
A treasure hunter has been warned he could be arrested for being a public nuisance after fishing a hand grenade from the depths of the River Thames in Kingston on Sunday.
A police bomb squad closed off Portsmouth Road and detonated the grenade at 8pm in a deafening explosion that neighbours said rattled windows and glassware in nearby homes.
Forklift truck driver Stephen Taylor, 36, discovered the rusty World War II grenade using an electromagnet on a line.
He is the same person who thought he had found an old Second World War shell in the woods near Glenbuck Road in August and called in the bomb squad, only to be told it was part of a signpost.
Mr Taylor, who lives with his wife Melanie in Warwick Grove, Surbiton, said: “One officer, an inspector, said to me ‘At the moment I can’t stop you doing it, but it would be better if you didn’t do it in rivers or lakes any more’.
“[He said] if I was to find anything else to phone police about he would give me a public nuisance.
“I think it’s out of order. It’s just a hobby.”
His aim was to find something of value one day to donate to the British Museum and perhaps have his name recognised, but he said finding explosives kept them safe from children who might fish them out by accident.
He said: “It was definitely live. They have thrown it in practising during the Second World War and it has not gone off. The lever was rusted to the grenade. I didn’t think the detonation would be that loud.”
Georgia Munroe, 23, who works for Genuine Solutions in Chessington, was walking home from Kingston Carnival with her dog Bob, mother and sister when they bumped into Mr Taylor.
She said he was a polite, middle-aged man who asked them to mind out of the way because he had found a hand grenade.
Ms Munroe said: “He said his wife thinks he is a bit mental. He usually just finds old pennies and old coins. We just thought it was amazing.”
The Munroes walked back to their home in Lovelace Gardens and did not hear the explosion.
Mr Taylor’s brother David said: “They can’t nick him because he is not breaking the law.”
Shortly after the detonation in Surbiton he cycled to Hampton Court where he thought he had found a piece of cannonball, which turned out to be something else.
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