Norfolk

David Cockle sentenced over theft of rare gold coins

08/03/2017

A former Norfolk Police officer who found rare gold coins on a farmer's land while metal detecting was sentenced today at Ipswich Crown Court to 16 months' imprisonment for theft. His action was described as "a serious heritage crime" by CPS East of England.

Senior District Crown Prosecutor Punam Malhan said: "David Cockle had permission from a Norfolk landowner to use a metal detector with an agreement that anything he found he would report and surrender.

"He found 10 Merovingian Tremissis gold coins from Gaul (France) dating back to the sixth or seventh centuries. Such finds are extremely rare in this country and to find them was a significant discovery. A similar find in the same location by a different person was reported and declared treasure trove.

"No matter how excited someone might be at finding buried gold treasure, there is a proper procedure to be followed when that happens. This is so that the find is correctly assessed and the historical importance of the find and its site recorded for future generations.

"Instead of notifying the landowner and the proper authorities, Mr Cockle sold the coins to a dealer for £15,000 and kept the money for himself. This was a serious breach of trust by a police officer and in doing this, he was not only stealing the coins, he was committing a serious heritage crime.

"Thankfully in this case, eight out of the 10 coins were later recovered by the police."

At the sentencing hearing, the prosecution asked for a Criminal Behaviour Order to prevent Mr Cockle from engaging in metal detecting activity for five years.

Miss Malhan said: "The Criminal Behaviour Order not only stops Mr Cockle from metal detecting for a number of years, if it is breached and he is prosecuted, he could face a sentence of up to five years in prison.

"We take heritage crime seriously as it harms the value of our country's heritage assets for ours and future generations. Where a discovery is not recovered, it is felt not just by the owner but by the community as a whole as it cannot be replaced."

ENDS

Notes

1. The CPS has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with English Heritage, ACPO and Participating Local Authorities. This MOU defines the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the prevention, investigation, enforcement and prosecution of heritage crime in keeping with their respective aims. The MOU aims to foster closer and better working relationships between the signatories.

 2. The location where the coins were found is not identified to prevent any further illegal activity.

 3. All finds of treasure must be reported to the local coroner for the district in which they are found. More guidance on treasure, including what items are officially defined as treasure, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/treasure