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Tony Portch from Sittingbourne prosecuted after 'nighthawking' and stealing an historical ring

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A man who found a valuable historical ring at a metal detecting event has been ordered to pay £600 in compensation after he kept it.

Tony Portch from Chalkwell Road, took part in an organised event in Lydden, Dover, back in February.

The 30-year-old found a “gold posy ring”, valued at around £1,200, but failed to provide adequate details of his find to heritage conservation teams.

He found the ring using a metal detector. Stock Image.
He found the ring using a metal detector. Stock Image.

He later sold it on to a private dealer.

The ring is believed to have dated from between the 15th and 17th centuries.

His house was searched in May following a warrant issued as part of Operation Chronos - a national campaign with Historic England to tackle illegal metal-detecting, also known as 'nighthawking'.

Kent Police Headquarters
Kent Police Headquarters

Mr Portch was sentenced after pleading guilty to theft.

He was also given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge and £85 in costs.

Inspector Dave Smith of Kent Police’s rural task force said: "Nighthawking is where people go onto farmland, archaeological sites and other areas of interest to find and steal coins and other treasure for their historical and financial value.

"This practice permanently deprives the country of our heritage and is one we are keen to tackle shoulder-to-shoulder with Historic England, whose policing and crime advisor Mark Harrison we have close ties with.

"Anyone who finds treasure on land that does not belong to them must go through the proper channels before being allowed to claim it for themselves.

"Tony Portch failed to do so and has now been hit in the pocket as a result."

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