“I AM not a terrorist.”

Those are the words of a military memorabilia collector who blew up an old naval bomb in his back garden.

A bomb squad were called to a residential area in Holbury after war enthusiast Richard Burdajewicz tried to drill a hole into the bomb to “see what was inside”.

The former taxi driver discovered the bomb washed up on Hurst Spit in 2015 and left it in his shed for months before deciding to open it up.

He believed the six-inch First World War explosive device was a practice bomb.

But prosecutor Ryan Seneviratne told the court that when he took an angle grind to it in June 2016, “it began fizzing and banging like a Roman Candle firework”.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard that concerned neighbours called the police after hearing the explosion at around 1.30pm.

Mr Seneviratne said the bomb launched into the air as it “scorched the back garden’s fence and house”.

He added: “Burdajewicz thought it was not a live shell because it had a ‘P’ on it. He did a Google search and it said that other bombs like this are practice shells if they have a ‘P’ on it.

“But as he put the angle grind through it there was heavy banging.”

The court heard that Burdajewicz took up collecting the memorabilia after he retired five years ago, amassing a variety of grenades and bombs which were stored at his home in Old School Close.

He is a member of the Extreme Relic Hunters as well as the New Forest Militaria.

Mitigating, Janet Brownlow told the court that Burdajewicz had made a “very silly decision”.

She said: “He took a decision to investigate the shell. He found it on the beach. Everyone is very glad nothing worse happened.

“He is extremely remorseful for his actions.”

A statement from Burdajewicz said: “I am a military enthusiast and collector - I am not a terrorist.

“What happened was an accident.”

The court heard that Burdajewicz had been cautioned by police previously after being found with a grenade in his local pub that he had hoped to sell.

Burdajewicz pleaded guilty to possession of prohibited ammunition. He was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.