Four men fined for illegal metal detecting

A LANDOWNER last night said he hoped fines handed out to four men who admitted illegal metal detecting at his farm would act as a deterrent to others.

Craig Robinson

A LANDOWNER last night said he hoped fines handed out to four men who admitted illegal metal detecting at his farm would act as a deterrent to others.

Sir Michael Bunbury was speaking out after the “night hawkers” - including one from Barham near Ipswich - were ordered to pay out more than �2,000.

The men were caught by police at a field between Rendlesham and Campsea Ashe armed with metal detectors and spades between 10pm and midnight on March 13 this year.


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Last night Sir Michael said he hoped the punishment handed out by Ipswich Crown Court would stop others from looting Suffolk's soil.

“This is the third time that it has happened but the first time that anyone has actually been charged,” he said. “I hope the fine acts a deterrent to other people. The biggest problem is that they are destroying our heritage.

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“It's very worrying because something of archaeological importance could be found and then sold on or melted down for its value.

“It causes other problems as well because they dig holes all over the field and destroy young crops but that's the main concern - it's our history.”

All four defendants admitted a charge of not being in their abode and having with them items, namely metal detectors and spades, to use in the course of or in connection with a theft.

David Miller, 40, of Maitland Road, Wickford, was fined �450 and ordered to pay �200 costs along with a �15 victim surcharge.

The others - Richard Blundell, 40, of the same address, Thomas Stewart, 19, of Oxford Avenue, Grays, and Peter Stewart, 54, of The Crescent, Barham, near Ipswich - were all fined �250 and ordered to pay �200 costs and a �15 victim surcharge.

If they fail to pay the fines then they will have to complete a 14 day jail term.

Jude Plouviez, archaeological officer with Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, said illegal metal detecting was a big problem in the east of England.

“It's very difficult to assess how often it's happening because landowners obviously have to be aware of activity and report it,” she said. “However there are a lot of archaeological artifacts available to buy on the internet.

“Unfortunately these are people who behave in a very greedy way to take stuff that belongs to us all. The trouble is once it's out of the ground and not recorded it's destroyed. The knowledge has gone. I would urge anyone who may suspect illegal activity to report it to the police.”

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