Two metal detectorists who hatched an illegal plot to sell abroad Anglo-Saxon coins of great historical significance have been jailed for more than five years.
Craig Best, 46, and Roger Pilling, 75, were convicted of conspiring to sell criminal property worth £766,000, namely 44 ninth-century coins believed to have been buried by a Viking and which have never been declared as Treasure, and have not been handed to the Crown.
Judge James Adkin, sitting at Durham Crown Court, said a further two coins remained outstanding and had been ‘hidden away’.
He was confident, having heard evidence during a trial last month, that the coins were part of a larger, undeclared find known as the Herefordshire or Leominster Hoard.
The coin enthusiasts were convicted of conspiracy to convert criminal property and a separate charge of possession of criminal property and were jailed for five years and two months.
The judge told them their offending was aggravated by their plan to sell the coins abroad, saying: ‘Had they left this country, they would have been likely to be lost to this nation for ever.’
The judge accepted Pilling, having run an engineering business, was a man of good character and Best had a young family who relied on him.
Best, of South View, Bishop Auckland, was arrested with three coins at a Durham hotel in May 2019 in a police sting operation.
Read More: Metal detectorists are jailed for more than five years for trying to sell £766,000 of Anglo-Saxon coins to an undercover police officer