Detectorists who stole $3.6 million buried treasure jailed for 18 years and ordered to pay $1.4 million

Poppy Bilderbeck

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Detectorists who stole $3.6 million buried treasure jailed for 18 years and ordered to pay $1.4 million

Featured Image Credit: Martyn Williams / Alamy Stock Photo/

Two metal detectorists have been handed a hefty fine and risk an extended jail sentence after being found guilty of stealing $3.6 million worth of buried treasure.

I take back every single time I've spotted a person with a metal detector on the banks of the Thames and joked to the person next to me that they likely won't discover anything but an old Fosters can or rogue keyring.

Alas, George Powell and Layton Davies didn't quite get to keep the treasure they found.

Two metal detectorists struck gold in Herefordshire in 2015. Credit: Christina Kennedy Alamy Stock Photo
Two metal detectorists struck gold in Herefordshire in 2015. Credit: Christina Kennedy Alamy Stock Photo

In spring 2015, now 41-year-old Powell and 54-year-old Davies were out using their metal detectors around Eye Court Farm, Leominster, Herefordshire when they struck gold - and a whole lot more.

As well as uncovering hundreds of Saxon coins, the pair also found pieces of silver and jewelry, BBC reports.

However, while many of us would probably do the same and pocket our findings, take this incident as a word of warning.

If you do so happen to stumble across some treasure, under the Treasure Act of 1996 you are required to declare your discovery to the relevant authorities - something Powell and Davies failed to properly do after 'clumsily' digging up the goods and not telling the owner of the land about their discovery.

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Instead, the pair reportedly only handed over three coins which were 'valueless' and sold several items they found on the black market.

The rest of the recovered coins, jewelry and silver were later evaluated as coming to a whopping total of $3.6 million - having been identified as being part of King Alfred's 1,100-year-old collection.

The total haul - with many items still unrecovered - is estimated as totaling $14.4 million.

The judge said the British Museum valued 30 of the coins as being worth £501,000. Credit: British Museum
The judge said the British Museum valued 30 of the coins as being worth £501,000. Credit: British Museum

In November 2019, Powell and Davies were both found guilty of theft, conspiracy to conceal criminal property and conspiracy to convert criminal property.

The detectorist duo were sentenced to a total of 18-and-a-half years in jail for the offences - Powell receiving 10 years and Davies eight-and-a-half.

However, their jail sentences could be increased if they don't abide by a recent confiscation order.

The two men have been ordered to pay over £600,000 each. Credit: West Mercia Police
The two men have been ordered to pay over £600,000 each. Credit: West Mercia Police

On Wednesday, 21 December, a confiscation order at Worcester Crown Court was created, stating Powell must repay $722,873 and Davies, $725,194.

And the pair have little time to cough up the money, a deadline having been set for 21 March, 2023.

Local policing commander for Herefordshire, Superintendent Edd Williams, said: "I’m delighted with today’s result, which brings closure to an investigation which we have been working on for seven years.

"The Confiscation Order, coupled with the sentences Powell and Davies received, send a strong and clear message that we take this sort of crime very seriously and will take action.

"It is a criminal offence to not declare finds of treasure to the local coroner’s office."

The men were told during their sentencing if they'd declared the buried treasure properly they could have taken home half of its value, coming in at around $1.8 million.

Topics: News, UK News, True crime, Crime, Money

Poppy Bilderbeck
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