A GROUP of metal detectorists stole Anglo Saxon coins worth £3 million as well as “invaluable” ancient jewellery they dug up in a field before selling them on the black market, a court heard.
George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51, are accused of failing to declare a priceless hoard of 1,000-year-old buried treasure they discovered on farmland in June 2015.
The pair along with Paul Wells, 60, and Simon Wicks, 57, went on trial yesterday accused of conspiring to conceal the treasure at Worcester Crown Court.
Their valuable find was said to include a gold ring, bracelet and silver ingot from the ninth century, a crystal ball pendant from the fifth century and 300 coins, including some from the era of Alfred the Great.
Jurors were told all four were aware of the law which states buried treasure must be declared, but chose to ignore it and proceeded to sell the items in small batches to a number of customers.
Opening the prosecution’s case, Kevin Hegarty QC said: “This case you are to hear in two words is about buried treasure.
“Over 1,100 years ago, before the Norman Conquest, jewellery, coins and ingots were concealed in the ground neat Eye Court Farm near Leominster, Herefordshire.
“They remained there undisturbed for many hundreds of years until June 2015.
‘INVALUABLE’ ANCIENT JEWELLERY
“Powell and Davies were out with their metal detectors on farmland at Eye Court Farm.
“They were both experienced at metal detecting, and they found jewellery, coins and ingots. And they knew when they found them that this was no ordinary find.
“They decided to treat the find as theirs and not to declare it to the landowner, the tenant farmer and the coroner. In short, they stole it.
“You will see images of 30 coins but it’s the prosecution’s case there were many more coins recovered by Powell and Davies, and all we have is a fraction of what was gathered together 1,100 years ago.
“At the time Davies and Powell were digging in the ground at Eye Court Farm, they took some pictures and its those pictures that were subsequently recovered and show there were far more than 30 coins in the ground.
“It’s estimated there are something like 300 coins.
‘THEY STOLE IT’
“Powell and Davies did not tell the farmers but they did tell Wells, who had an interest in such items.”
Mr Hegarty said Powell, Davies and Wells took the items to an antiques dealer and conducted their own internet research to establish the value of the items.
Emails show they were aware of the Treasure Act, which states they must declare buried treasure, but Mr Hegarty said they did not do so.
The court heard Powell and Davies together with Wicks went about selling the items to a variety of individuals and organisations, including more than 20 coins to auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb.
Around 30 coins plus the jewellery have been recovered by police from the various people the defendants sold to as well as from their home addresses.
Wicks had even hidden some of the coins within the handle of a magnifying glass, jurors were told.
MOST READ IN UK NEWS
Powell, of Newport, Wales, and Davies, of Pontypridd, Wales, have pleaded not guilty to theft.
Powell, Davies, Wells, of Rumney, Cardiff, and Wicks, of Hailsham, East Sussex, deny conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
Powell, Davies and Wicks deny conspiracy to convert criminal property – namely by selling it. The trial, which is due to last a month, continues.
- GOT a story? Ring The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or email [email protected].