U2 Singer's Missing Laptop Returned With Lyrics Intact

Irish man says he unwittingly bought computer Bono reported stolen.

U2 singer Bono's missing laptop computer was returned Thursday night, with lyrics and other work for the band's next album intact, according to Bono's UK publicists.

A Dublin, Ireland, man, who had unwittingly bought the computer, returned

it to Bono, according to the Irish newspaper The Star, which

arranged the return. The singer's publicity firm, RMP, confirmed The Star's account.

"The album is now back on track — you wouldn't believe what this means to me," The Star quoted Bono as saying.

The laptop was among the items in a shoulder bag Bono (born Paul Hewson)

reported stolen on Monday night, from the Clarence Hotel in Dublin. U2's

manager, Paul McGuinness, said in a statement Thursday that the laptop,

along with notebooks that were in the bag, contained lyrics and other

work for U2's next album.

The Dublin man, who was identified by only his first name, Paul, reportedly told The Star that he bought the computer from someone he believed to be a "reputable source." But he soon realized it was Bono's missing computer, which had been widely publicized, according to the account in The Star.

"Everything I'd written since August was on this, and I hadn't backed up any of it — so I would really have been a goner," Bono was quoted as saying.

Irish police are trying to track down the person who sold the computer — who, they presume, also stole it — police spokesperson Ronan Farrelly said.

"Just because it's returned doesn't mean we're done with it," Farrelly added.

Under Irish law, anyone convicted of such a theft would be unlikely to get jail time, unless that person had a prior criminal record, he said.

U2's album, following up Pop (1997), is scheduled for release in 2000. Bono said in an online chat in June that the disc would return the band to a more organic sound than their most recent work.

"It's the sound of four people playing in a room, four people who've known each other all their lives," the 39-year-old singer said of the album, which the band is recording with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois — the team behind such previous hit albums as The Joshua Tree (1987).