Norfolk policeman who sold gold coins he found could face suspended sentence

Ipswich Crown Court. Archant Library.

Ipswich Crown Court. Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

A policeman who sold 10 ancient gold coins he found in a west Norfolk field has been told by a judge that he may receive a suspended jail sentence.

David Cockle, who was a serving police officer in Norfolk at the time of the theft, sold the Merovingian Tremissis coins for £15,000 to a dealer, despite having a contract with the landowner the split the proceeds of any find, Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday.

Cockle, 49, of Stoke Road in Wereham, near Downham Market, pleaded guilty to stealing the coins - which he found with a metal detector - between April 2012 and November 2015.

Adjourning sentence until March 8 for a pre-sentence report, Judge Report Overbury warned Cockle that, though he had not yet decided how to sentence him, he may still be able to pass a suspended sentence.

Nicholas Bonehill, for Cockle, said that although his client had been a serving officer, that situation was likely to have changed by the time he was sentenced.

The court heard that after discovering the coins, Cockle failed to tell the landowner or coroner to see if it was a treasure trove.

Judge Overbury said there was a rigid process to be followed, but that Cockle had sold them in batches to a dealer on the basis that he legitimately owned the coins.

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