Norfolk men appear in court for metal detecting
PUBLISHED: 13:31 13 April 2016 | UPDATED: 13:31 13 April 2016
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A man who said metal detecting had helped turn his life around has been given “one last chance” after admitting going to heath near Thetford Forest “equipped for theft”.
Aiden McCulloch, 26, was one of two men spotted by police on part of West Harling Heath, which is close to tumuli - or ancient burial mounds - with equipment, including a metal detector and a spade.
Norwich Crown Court heard that after seeing police, the men ran off, discarding the metal detector as they fled.
When officers caught up with McCulloch and Xavier Ruiz, 30, they found old Roman coins and other metal detecting equipment in a car belonging to McCulloch.
The court heard that the coins had nothing to do with the incident on July 1 last year but had been acquired legally by McCulloch who has a passion for metal detecting.
McCulloch, who represented himself in court, said he thought the heath, close to Thetford Forest - a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) - was common land where he would be permitted to search for treasure.
McCulloch, who yesterday admitted one count of going equipped for theft, said: “Before I started metal detecting my life was very different.
“I had nothing to live for. I was on a downward spiral. It’s changed my life and given me something to focus on.”
McCulloch, who has a number of previous convictions, said he “did not have much in his life” and insisted he might have been in prison now were it not for metal detecting.
Recorder Jo Boothby said he would give McCulloch, of The Glebe, East Harling, “one more chance” and sentenced him to a conditional discharge for two years, ordered him to pay £100 prosecution costs and £1 for the breach of a suspended sentence imposed for a separate offence.
His co-defendant Ruiz, of St Martins Way, Thetford, who also admitted going equipped for theft, was sentenced to a 12 month community order and ordered to carry out 40 hours unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay £100 prosecution costs.
Charles Kellett, for Ruiz, said his client’s offending had been “coming down in recent years” and was now studying for a degree in computing online which had given him something to focus upon.