Metal detectorists who tried to flog Anglo-Saxon coins worth £766k to undercover cop are jailed for five years | The Sun

TWO metal detectorists who tried to sell Anglo-Saxon coins worth more than £760,000 have been jailed.

Craig Best, 46, and Roger Pilling, 75, hatched a plot to flog the 44 ninth-century coins, which are believed to have been buried by a Viking.

Two of the coins have still not been recovered after being "hidden away" by the pair.

Best and Pilling have now been jailed for five years and two months after they were convicted of conspiracy to convert criminal property.

The coin enthusiasts were also found guilty of possession of criminal property following a trial.

Durham Crown Court was told the coins were likely part of a larger, undeclared find known as the Herefordshire or Leominster Hoard.

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Sentencing, Judge James Adkin said: "Had they left this country, they would have been likely to be lost to this nation for ever."

Jurors heard how an undercover police sting was set up in 2019 when Best tried to sell the coins to an American collector, who then alerted the UK authorities.

He was arrested with three coins at a Durham hotel after he travelled to meet what he believed was a wealthy US buyer.

Pilling, who according to the judge acquired the collection from the "black market", was arrested at his home in Loveclough, Lancashire.

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It is believed the coins were made between 874 CE and 879 CE and were buried by a Viking.

They included two extremely rare examples of two-headed coins, showing Alfred of Wessex and Ceolwulf II of Mercia.

Experts say the discovery fills a historical gap from the time – revealing Ceolwulf was an ally or peer, rather than the “puppet” of the Vikings he was previously believed to be.

The coins are believed to have been found in Leominster, Herefordshire, in 2015 as part of a multi-million pound hoard.

Four people have already been convicted and jailed for 18 years for their role in concealing that find.

Under the Treasure Act 1996, finders have a legal obligation to report all finds of potential Treasure to the local coroner in the district in which the find was made.

"Treasure" has a number of definitions but key requirements are that it's up to 200-years-old and over 10 per cent of its weight is precious metal.

If a reward is paid for a find it is normally shared equally between the finder and landowner.

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