Dummy mortar round prompts evacuation

Dunedin man Dennis Hodge did not expect the Countdown Central car park near the Dunedin central police station to be evacuated when he brought in an old practice mortar bomb yesterday.

Police cars with flashing lights sealed off all four entrances and exits to the supermarket car park, and also sealed off a nearby block of Great King St, after police were alerted about 9.35am.

Some of the police who evacuated the Dunedin Central Countdown car park yesterday. PHOTOS: PETER...
Some of the police who evacuated the Dunedin Central Countdown car park yesterday. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH

Senior Sgt Mark Gill said that after Mr Hodge went into the police station and advised that mortar bomb - apparently an inactive training round - was in his car, parked nearby in the car park, police staged the precautionary evacuation, to ensure public safety.

People were allowed to drive away cars already parked in the car park, but no shoppers were allowed to drive in, and pedestrians could not walk through the central car park area.

Sergeant Matt Davidson, of  Dunedin,  holds an inactivated mortar round, which was the centre of...
Sergeant Matt Davidson, of Dunedin, holds an inactivated mortar round, which was the centre of yesterday’s precautionary evacuation in the city.
Snr Sgt Gill said the Ministry of Defence bomb squad quickly confirmed that the mortar bomb was safe and did not contain explosives, and the cordon was lifted, about 10am.

Mr Hodge had become aware of the existence of the mortar round - apparently a sand-filled training round - which may have dated from World War 2, and may have come from Auckland, through helping support a Dunedin friend, who was recovering after a brain injury.

The training round apparently belonged to a relative of the friend.

Snr Sgt Gill said the cordon had been handled smoothly and police had acted to protect the public from any potential harm.

Dunedin man Dennis Hodge, who alerted police to an old, inactivated mortar round yesterday.
Dunedin man Dennis Hodge, who alerted police to an old, inactivated mortar round yesterday.
Police appreciated being advised of the bomb, but, in future, would prefer an initial telephone alert, and the chance to investigate the bomb in its initial location, rather than it being brought to the police station, he said.

Otago Regional Council public transport team leader Julian Phillips said the city's bus hub had been out of operation for some time until 10am, but police had promptly notified the bus companies and the council, the matter had taken place for a short off-peak period, and the buses had taken alternative routes.

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