The panicked evacuation of a major city police station earlier this week may have been a false alarm – after a suspected bomb was said by its owner to have been nothing more than a homemade sex toy.
Police remain sceptical over the claims, however, after some of the officers involved in uncovering the item were struck down with burning skin, irritated eyes and vomiting.
The bomb scare came after police raided a home in the Sydney suburb of Casula over alleged drug activity on Friday (26 May).
During a search of the property, officers said they discovered an "unknown homemade battery operated device".
It was made of a putty-like substance wrapped in plastic and connected to a switch, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The bomb squad was reportedly contacted but only arrived the following day when the item had already been taken by officers to Liverpool Police Station.
Upon studying the device, a bomb squad officer and Hazmat specialists deemed it to be a live incendiary device that was shock sensitive and could explode if moved.
It led to half of the police station being quickly evacuated while the bomb squad undertook a controlled detonation.
At the same time, five officers who found the item were struck with similar symptoms: dizziness, irritated eyes, burning skin and vomiting.
Fearing chemical exposure from the device was to blame, two officers with the most severe symptoms were taken to hospital.
Police later arrested the target of the raid – who wasn't at home when the suspected bomb was discovered – on suspicion of terrorist offences.
The suspect – a construction worker whose social media shows a passion for fast cars and motorbikes – tried to allay fears he was plotting a bomb attack, however, when he sheepishly claimed the device was actually a homemade sex toy meant to vibrate.
The man was released without charge and the putty was reportedly sent to forensic experts for further testing.
"At this stage a person had been interviewed and the chemical is still being forensically examined," Liverpool LAC crime manager Detective Inspector Dean Johnstone told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"The general feel is we believe it was some sort of sealant but we're not sure what else was contained in it.
"He has given us a version but based on that we need to see what the chemical make up is."
The officers who became ill following contact with the device are said to be on the mend.