Friday, 27 January 2017

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? [UPDATED}

PC David Cockle (Photo:
East Anglia News Service)
Ipswich Crown Court heard how a metal detectorist sold off 10 gold coins he'd stolen from a West Norfolk farmer in small batches so as not to arouse suspicion (Staff reporter. 'Norfolk policeman who sold gold coins he found could face suspended sentence' East Daily Press 25 January 2017).
David Cockle, who was a serving police officer in Norfolk at the time of the theft, sold the Merovingian Tremissis coins for £15,000 to a dealer, despite having a contract with the landowner the split the proceeds of any find, Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday. Cockle, 49, of Stoke Road in Wereham, near Downham Market, pleaded guilty to stealing the coins - which he found with a metal detector - between April 2012 and November 2015 [...] The court heard that after discovering the coins, Cockle failed to tell the landowner or coroner to see if it was a treasure trove [sic, sic]. Judge Overbury said there was a rigid process to be followed, but that Cockle had sold them in batches to a dealer on the basis that he legitimately owned the coins.
As we know, anybody can say they are the rightful owner of something, but a responsible buyer will want to check that story. No matter whether you are buying from a soon-to-be ex-policeman or a dealer or whoever. This is why anybody handling antiquities needs to obtain documented proof of title to sell.

The Mirror has other details: Metal detector cop cheats farmer after finding £15,000 gold coins in field , 26 JAN 2017
 The coins which he sold in three batches over 14 months are believed to have been part of a larger hoard [...] Another 34 similar gold coins were found in the same field in west Norfolk by another metal detecting fan who also had permission to be on the land. But unlike Cockle, the other man did the right thing and reported his find to the authorities, leading it to be declared as treasure trove. Sources said that the two finds taken together potentially made it the largest ever hoard of the type of coins ever found in the UK. [...] Cockle had initially denied stealing ten coins belonging to another person between April 2012 and November 2015. But he changed his plea to guilty on the day that his trial was due to start on Wednesday. [...] A Norfolk Police spokeswoman said Cockle who is based at Downham Market police station was suspended from duty and faced misconduct proceedings. [...]  She added: “The investigation was launched after the Norfolk and Suffolk Anti-Corruption Unit received information from a member of the public and Cockle was arrested in November 2015. 
Interestingly, the hoard itself does not seem to figure in the PAS database...

Heritage Action, with their notional but wise farmer Silas Brown see the fault here partly in the naivety of the landowner which was exploited by the metal detectorist - as are they all: 'Damn fool farmer ripped off by metal detecting policeman!' 28/01/2017).
"Finds agreements” are no protection for landlords. Indeed, they’re a crook’s best friend for most of them authorise the detectorist to take home items of “low” value (commonly £300 but £2,000 at Central Searchers rallies) as his own without showing the farmer – and that’s as good as carte blanche since it is the detectorist alone who determines “low value”.
Silas Brown has said to farmers:
Sign nothing, especially if it contains the word “share” [...] By all that’s logical, legal, practical, safe and just it should be YOU alone who decides what (if anything) you give away, and then only when you’ve seen everything the detectorist has found, not before. And only when you’ve been given the finds and had them independently examined and valued. By not signing a finds agreement you’ll still get ripped off sometimes. [...]  but it will happen less often if it is made clear: nothing leaves my farm without me seeing it.
We have yet to hear if Mr Cockle is a member of any metal detecting clubs, and which ones he has been thrown out of after entering his guilty plea.

1 comment:

Alan S. said...

Interestingly, the hoard itself does not seem to figure in the PAS database

Stands to reason, reporting is voluntary, innit?

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