Two Metal Detectorists Jailed For 5 Years For Trying To Sell £700k Worth Of Undeclared Treasure To Undercover Police Officer

Jesse Williams

By Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

10 May 2023

Two metal detectorists have been jailed for trying to sell £700k worth of undeclared treasure to undercover police.

The two fortune chasers Craig Best, 46, and Roger Pilling, 75, were convicted of possessing and conspiring to sell criminal property in the form of 44 9th-century coins believed to have been buried by a Viking.

Worth an estimated £766,000, the ninth century loot was discovered in Leominster as part of a larger, undeclared find from 2015 known as the Herefordshire Hoard.

The police got involved when Best tried to sell the coins to a US collector, who tipped off UK-based experts who then alerted the authorities.

Under the Treasure Act, any metal object believed to be more than 200 years old is property of the Crown and must be declared to authorities within 14 days.

An undercover police operation was set up during which a further 41 coins were found in Pilling’s home.

Judge James Adkins told them their offending was aggravated by their plan to sell the coins abroad: “Had they left this country, they would have been likely to be lost to this nation for ever.”

The duo were sentenced to five years and two months at Durham Crown Court.