A teenager blew off his fingertips and was left with horrific burns after a bomb he bought on the internet exploded in his hands.
Luke Stillman, 16, lost the top of his thumb when a Spanish 81mm mortar that he ordered from a collectors' website turned out to be live.
The Northamptonshire teenager was dismantling the device - which he believed was inert - when part of the metal detonator, about the size of a Malteser, exploded in his hands.
Luke Stillman, 16, from Northamptonshire, had to have pieces of shrapnel dug out of his wounds by a doctor
The Spanish 81mm mortar was supposed to have been deactivated
'We heard a big bang followed by a scream and thought the bookcase in his bedroom had fallen over,' said his father Terry Stillman, 56.
'But when we went up to his room, we realised the bomb had exploded and there was blood everywhere. It was horrific.
'Luke was screaming his head off and thought he had lost all his fingers.'
Luke, a pupil at Moulton School, Northampton, began buying military memorabilia over the internet in January.
He paid £36 for the Spanish mortar, which the seller said was inert, from the Specialist Auctions website. Mr Stillman said it was delivered to their home by Royal Mail.
Luke also has several grenades and bullets in his collection, which have all been deactivated.
'It is quite legal to sell them inert, but this one clearly wasn't and I'm very worried that this could happen to someone else and they could suffer an even worse accident,' added Mr Stillman, of Walgrave in Northants.
When we went up to his room, we realised the bomb had exploded and there was blood everywhere. It was horrific. Luke was screaming his head off and thought he had lost all his fingers.
- TERRY STILLMAN
'When the mortar arrived, Luke took it up to his bedroom to dismantle and see how it works and he actually did this several times before it exploded.
'It was part of the metal detonator, about the size of a Malteser, which went off and scattered slivers of shrapnel everywhere.
'Luke was standing up at his desk and he suffered an impact injury to his chest and lost the tip of his right thumb and the pad of his index finger.
'There were also lots of tiny pieces of shrapnel in both his hands which had to be pulled out by a surgeon. But he was lucky as it could have been so much worse.'
Luke, who is a member of the Air Training Corps, was taken by his parents to Kettering General Hospital and then transferred to the Leicester Royal Infirmary for an operation.
'We were absolutely horrified by what happened but at least Luke is getting better,' added his father. 'I have never worried about this happening before as you believe mortars are inert when you are told that.
'We have told Luke he is not buying anymore and I want to warn other people about the risks. I also find it worrying that if someone actually wanted to buy a live bomb it would be possible for them to do so.'
The family has contacted the website about last month's accident and has been told the seller has now been blocked from trading, but they are worried the original dealer is still selling items.
Mr Stillman added: 'My worry is that someone could actually die if this is allowed to carry on.'
Northamptonshire Police is investigating the incident under the Firearms Act.
'This incident could potentially have resulted in Luke sustaining a much more serious injury. As it was, his fingers were burned and the table he was sitting at was damaged,' said Detective Sergeant Andy Rogers, of Northampton CID.
'Messing around with any ordnance is potentially very dangerous. If you discover ordnance of any description, steer clear and contact the police immediately.
'We need to know how this mortar round was still "live" and available for purchase in this country and, to that end, we are investigating to see whether any criminal offences have been committed.'
A spokesman for Specialist Auctions said today: 'The site is similar to eBay, we enable buyers to meet sellers.
'We are very strict that the ordnance sold is inert and the minute we heard what had happened we started working with the police to make sure they had all the information they needed.
'We also have specialists from the British Ordnance Collectors Association who monitor what is being listed for sale.
'Inert ordnance can be bought and sold in the UK so we let people do that on this site.
'The vendor in this instance will not be allowed to trade again.
'This is the first time we have had an issue like this and we have been running for eight years.'
Ruth Barker from Royal Mail said: 'We are very sympathetic to the nasty injuries suffered. We are not aware of the circumstances or evidence that this item was delivered by Royal Mail.
'We do of course take the security and safety of mail very seriously and will always work closely with the police on such issues.'
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