Saturday 6 May 2023

Coin Sellers Jailed in UK

  Craig Best and Roger Pilling (Photo: Durham Police)

Two men who tried to sell 44 rare Anglo-Saxon coins worth £766,000 have each been jailed for five years (BBC, Anglo-Saxon coin plotters Craig Best and Roger Pilling jailed' BBC 5th May 2023).
As mentioned earlier, Craig Best, 46, from Bishop Auckland County Durham,  and Roger Pilling, 75, from Lancashire, were caught in a police sting in May 2019. They were accused of trying to sell coins that were part of an undeclared Viking period hoard from near Leominster, Herefordshire, by two different metal detectorists in 2015. In Durham Crown   they were found guilty of conspiring to sell criminal property and both jailed for five years and two months. 
 Prosecutor Matthew Donkin said Best, of South View, Bishop Auckland, and Pilling, of Loveclough, near Rawtensall, were trying to sell the silver coins on the black market to buyers outside the UK and asked for payment in cash, which would mean there would be no record of their existence or whereabouts. [...] HHJ Adkin said Pilling was the "brains behind the operation" and bought the coins on the "black market" in 2016. The judge said he was sure Pilling knew the significance of the coins and that they could not be sold on to a legitimate UK buyer as their importance would quickly be realised and reported. Pilling [...] had "collected precious objects for the whole of his life"

The price he paid the seller of these coins (who, interestingly, is not named in the reports of this case) was not given. In order to monetise his investment, Pilling then: 

contacted Best who had a "chequered past" and American contacts who might buy them, the judge said. Best attempted to sell them to a US-based expert who notified historians at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge with the police ultimately being informed. Best was caught trying to sell the coins to undercover officers in a sting operation at the County Hotel in Durham in May 2019.

and led the investigators to Pilling. There were 44 coins found during the search of the two men's properties, but 

the court heard Pilling had photographed two further coins valued at more than £100,000 whose whereabouts are now unknown. Mr Pilling [...] claimed the fragile coins broke when he dropped and stood on them so they were binned. The judge said [...] he didn't accept the two missing coins had been damaged and believed they had been "hidden away". One of the coins worth £85,000 would have been the most valuable in Pilling's collection and it would have been an "odd coincidence" for that to be one the that was destroyed, the judge added. He also said both men told "many lies" throughout the investigation and trial and described their efforts to cover their tracks as "amateurish".
Best claimed that he had no idea they were criminal property, Durham Crown Court has been told (BBC, Durham man had 'no idea' selling Anglo-Saxon coins was illegal 24 April 2023).
Giving evidence in his defence, Craig Best said he had known co-accused Mr Pilling, 74, for 10 years. They were keen metal detectorists but had no discussion about selling the coins, he said. He claimed Mr Pilling had told him that he had bought the coins before the Treasure Act 1996 was brought into law. [...] Mr Best told the court he would not have got involved had he known the coins were part of a hoard. "I have young children. I wouldn't have taken that risk because dealing with them would have been illegal," he said. "I wasn't one hundred percent sure what they were. I was just trying to get them checked out." He was also asked why he had carried out searches on the internet about previous hoards found. He said: "I'm a detectorist. That's what we do." Asked if at any point he knew or believed the coins to be criminal property, he said "no".
The 46 rare coins of the same narrow timespan and typology just dropped out of the sky, no doubt.


De. William Shephard said...

Phew, thank god the world is safe again...

Unknown said...

What metal detector were they using? I want to go and find treasure!

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