A ‘NIGHTHAWKER’ who dug up ancient artefacts while metal-detecting illegally has been convicted of theft and going equipped to steal.
Kevin Thomas Lomas, aged 41, from Scholes near Rotherham, was arrested last year as part of Operation Totem - a police campaign launched to combat illegal metal detecting in Lincolnshire.
Farmers had been suffering trespassers carrying out illegal metal detecting known as ‘nighthawking’, with damage caused to crops and artefacts stolen from the ground.
Lomas’ home was searched and coins and historic items were seized, along with metal detecting equipment.
Some of the items were taken to the British Museum and examined by experts.
They were found to include a silver 8th century Anglo Saxon coin called a sceat, a tiny copper and red enamel precious egg, a silver 13th century petit dernier French coin and a copper and gilt Roman brooch from the 2nd to 3rd century.
But because Lomas did not tell the police where he had found them, nothing more could be discovered about their history.
Lomas was found guilty of eight counts of theft and one offence of going equipped to steal when he appeared at Skegness Magistrates’ Court. He was ordered to forfeit his metal detection equipment and pay £400 in costs, and received a 12 month conditional discharge.
Senior prosecutor Mark Holmes, from the Crime Prosecution Service in the East Midlands, added: “Nighthawking is not a harmless activity, but a criminal activity that robs us all of our historical heritage.”
Sgt Alasdair Booth of Lincolnshire Police, who led Operation Totem, said: “Many people seem to hold the opinion metal detecting is a harmless hobby and feel they have a right to roam and use their equipment at will. But behaviour such as that by Lomas removes part of our heritage.
“A great deal of work was carried out to send a clear message that illegal metal detecting and heritage crime will be taken seriously.
“I would like to thank English Heritage, The British Museum and the CPS for their help.
“Lomas has lost his equipment a number of artefacts, paid costs and now has a criminal record as result of his actions.”