Metal Detectorists Jailed After Stealing Ancient Viking Haul Worth £3 Million
Two 'greedy and selfish' metal detectorists have been jailed for 18-and-a-half years after stealing a £3 million hoard of Anglo Saxon and Viking treasure.
George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51, did not declare they had unearthed valuable coins and jewellery dating back more than 1,000 years that rewrote history.
The artifacts were discovered on farmland near Leominster, Herefordshire in June 2015, and included a ninth-century gold ring, a dragon's head bracelet, a silver ingot, a fifth crystal rock pendant and up to 300 coins.
The coins included 'two emperors' featuring the faces of King Alfred and King Ceolwulf II, worth up to £50,000 each, and 'cross and lozenges', valued at £15,000 each.
But rather than inform the farmer who owned the land, the two men tried to cash in, selling off their ancient haul bit by bit.
The court heard that, as a result of their efforts, only 31 of the coins - worth between £10,000 and £50,000 - and pieces of jewellery have ever been recovered, with the majority of the hoard still missing.
However, mobile phone photographs recovered from Davies' phone by police showed the trove all together as one in a freshly dug hole.
Under law, all treasure found in the UK belongs to the Crown and a Treasure Valuation Committee decides how it should be shared among the finder and the landowner or tenant.
The court heard how Powell and Davies had approached the National Museum of Wales after a council worker heard rumours of their discovery and tracked one of the men down.
The pair then signed over three items to the museum, but claimed they only found one coin each at different locations, which meant they weren't subject to the Treasure Act.
It was also heard that Powell had only handed over three coins he found to the owner of the land and those were 'not particularly valuable'.
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At a hearing yesterday, Powell and Davies, along with coin sellers Paul Wells, 60, and Simon Wicks, 57, were convicted of conspiring to conceal the treasure.
Powell, Davies and Wicks were also found guilty of conspiring to convert the treasure into cash.
This morning, warehouse worker Powell, from Newport, Wales, was jailed for six years for theft and four years for conspiracy to conceal and convert, totalling 10 years.
Accomplice Davies, of Pontypridd, a school caretaker, was sent down for eight-and-a-half years after receiving five-and-a-half years for theft and three years for concealing the treasure.
Wicks, of Hailsham, East Sussex, received five years imprisonment for his charges including those from previous convictions.
Wells, of Rumney, Cardiff, was hospitalised after suffering a cardiac arrest when the jury gave its verdict. His sentencing was adjourned until 23 December.
Judge Nicholas Cartwright told Powell and Davies that if they had informed the farmer, they would have stood to have made at least £500,000 each from the find.
He said: "You acted in a way which was greedy and selfish. You clumsily dug out everything you could find and put the soil back and left without speaking to the farmer, the farmer's mother or anybody else.
"If you had obtained the permissions and agreements responsible metal detectorists are advised to obtain and had gone on to act within the law, you could have expected to have had a half share or third share of £3 million to share between the two of you.
"You could not have done worse than £500,000 each, but you wanted more."
All four men denied the charges but were convicted after a jury of six men and six women deliberated for eight-and-a-half hours following a seven-week trial.
Featured Image Credit: SWNS