Wednesday, 8 March 2017

UK Metal Detectorist in a Suit Jailed

A metal detectorist who did not show the landowner what he took from the latter's property and kept it for himself has been jailed (Sam Russell Pete Bainbridge, 'Policeman who stole ancient gold coins he found with metal detector is jailed' Manchester Evening News 8 Mar 2017).
David Cockle, 50, found the Merovingian Tremissis coins in a field in west Norfolk and sold them to a dealer for £15,000. He had entered into a contract with the landowner to split the proceeds of any find 50:50, but failed to tell the landowner of his discovery.
He also failed to tell the coroner, instead selling the coins in three smaller batches to disguise the fact they were treasure [...].
More details emerged in the sentencing hwearing. The coins were part of  the largest find of Merovingian coins in the UK
Judge Rupert Overbury, sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday, said Cockle had more than 30 years of experience as a metal detectorist and knew the legal process he should have followed to declare the find [...]  Cockle was jailed for 16 months and banned from metal detecting for five years. Under the five-year criminal behaviour order, he is also banned from owning metal detecting equipment and from entering into agreements with landowners to use their land for metal detecting. He faces five years in jail if he breaches the order. [...]
One wonders how many other times the archaeological record is distorted by false information arising from the current lax legislation as artefacts are represented as from places other than where they were actually found to chat the landowner of what is theirs by right:
Gerard Pounder, prosecuting, said Cockle had lied about where the coins were found and registered them as being discovered at different sites around the country including Boston, Lincolnshire, Grays, Essex and another near Norwich. He said the coins had a high gold purity, and that Cockle sold the 10 coins for £1,500 each in smaller parcels of two, three and five coins to claim they were not a hoard.
Treasure inquests should be set up to determine the circumstances of finding of artefacts (it appears that coroners are not obliged to do this) and the PAS should ask to see finds release documentation from the landowner for any artefacts they handle. More details emerge about the background:
Nick Bonehill, mitigating, said Cockle was of previous good character, had a successful career in finance before he joined the police and could no longer work in either sector as a result of the dishonesty conviction. Cockle had split from his wife, who also worked for Norfolk Police, in 2012. The court heard he was motivated by his ex-wife’s demands for a £10,000 divorce settlement, but Judge Overbury noted that Cockle had also suffered gambling losses. The coin dealer, who had bought the items in good faith, was left out of pocket by Cockle’s actions, the court heard. A proceeds of crime hearing will take place at a later date. Cockle, who wore a suit and tie, appeared emotionless as he was led down to the cells.

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