UPDATE: Archaeology enthusiasts who hid their haul of valuable Anglo-Saxon coins jailed

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A pair of metal detectorists who discovered more than 300 Anglo-Saxon coins and historic jewellery, then hid the £2.9million haul, have today (22 November) been jailed.

George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51, were scanning farmland in Leominster when they struck gold, discovering hundreds of Anglo-Saxon coins, jewellery and ingots.

Some of the hoard uncovered by the men
Some of the hoard uncovered by the men

Instead of disclosing this significant treasure find to the landowner and the coroner, as law dictates, Powell and Davies kept the haul for themselves.

Separately, the detectorists contacted the National Museum for Wales explaining they had found only one coin each, at different locations, which meant they would not have been subject to the regulations of the Treasure Act.

It came to light that the defendants had started releasing coins onto the market, through specialist sellers Paul Wells, 60, and Simon Wicks, 57. Evidence was gathered which showed Powell and Wicks meeting at a service station to hand over the coins.

Wicks contacted a collector and sold him two coins, telling him there was more in the collection if he was interested.

Lesley Milner of the CPS said: “The coins Davies and Powell found were more than 1,100 years old and bore the inscriptions of Aelfred and Ceolwulf from the Saxon-Viking period. This find had immense historical value and should have been disclosed to the relevant authorities. But Davies and Powell actively hid their haul for their own selfish gain.”

Unearthing the truth

Powell said that he had found a couple of gold coins when metal detecting, however images on his phone contradicted this account as they proved he had uncovered around 300 coins with Davies.

The prosecution used the five coins hidden in a magnifying glass at Wells’ house, which were clearly of the same origin as the treasure the detectorists had found, to prove that Powell and Davies had passed on the coin without disclosing this through the correct channels.

An expert testified that the coins seized from Wells, Davies and Powell had come from the same source due to the rarity of the coins.

Lesley Milner continued: “The treasure found would have been worth at least £2,900,000. But regardless of the value, these men collectively conspired to hide genuine treasure from the authorities. Undetected, this could have prevented the public from viewing and studying the full contents of such a historically important find.”

On Thursday 21 November at Worcester Crown Court Davies, Wicks, Wells and Powell were all found guilty.

Today (22 November) Powell has been sentenced to ten years in prison, Davies has been sentenced to 8.5 years in prison and Wicks has been jailed for five years. Wells will be sentenced in December.

Notes to editors

  • Lesley Milner is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands
  • Layton Davies (18/06/1968) was found guilty of
    • Theft of a quantity of coins, jewellery and silver ingots contrary to Section 1 (1) Theft Act 1968
    • Conspiracy to conceal criminal property contrary to Section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977
    • Conspiracy to convert criminal property contrary to Section 1 (1) Criminal Law Act 1977
  • George Powell (22/01/1981) was found guilty of
    • Theft of a quantity of coins, jewellery and silver ingots contrary to Section 1 (1) Theft Act 1968
    • Conspiracy to conceal criminal property contrary to Section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977
    • Conspiracy to convert criminal property contrary to Section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977
  • Simon Wicks (16/10/1962) was found guilty of
    • Conspiracy to conceal criminal property contrary to Section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977
    • Conspiracy to convert criminal property contrary to Section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977
  • Paul Wells (29/07/1959) was found guilty of
    • Conspiracy to conceal criminal property contrary to Section 1 (1) Criminal Law Act 1977.

Further reading