Pair stole artefacts from historic site

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TWO men stole archaeological artefacts during a late night raid on a historic site, a court heard.

Scott Mitchell, 44, and Allan Oakley, donned camouflage clothing to take items from the Baylham Roman site, in Coddenham.

Appearing at West Suffolk Magistrates’ Court, the pair pleaded guilty to stealing a number of artefacts belonging to English Heritage and using metal detectors without authority on the site.

Prosecuting, Ian Devine said police found an unattended vehicle parked in a layby on the A14 at about 1.30am on March 29.

They searched for the occupants before realising the vehicle was heading off towards Ipswich.

They later stopped the vehicle, which was being driven by Mitchell, of Phoenix Place, Dartford, and found two metal detectors and other equpiment.

When interviewed, he and Oakley, of Halton Road, Grays, Essex, admitted they did not have permission to be on the site. Oakley said metal detecting was ‘a simple hobby’.

Mr Devine said: “Certain archaeological items were recovered from them. They’ve largely nominal value. There are some which maybe of significant value – nothing exceptional I would suggest but they’ve been recovered and retained by the appropriate authorities.”

Jeremy Kendall, in mitigation, said Mitchell had a ‘long standing hobby in relation to metal detecting’ and had given talks to school children in Kent.

They had heard about Baylham site from friends.

He said: “There’s no evidence apart from this one misdemeanor that they’ve been using their detectors to procure stolen property.”

The pair were each given a 24- month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 costs. Their equipment will be confiscated.