FIVE men have admitted heritage crimes at Cheshire’s Beeston Castle and Roche Abbey in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

All five men, from Tameside, appeared at Chester Magistrates Court on Friday, April 9. They each pleaded guilty to removing, without written consent, objects of archaeological/historical interest found by a metal detector in a protected place.

They are all next due to appear before District Judge Nicholas Sanders at Chester Magistrates Court next month, who will decide whether to sentence them or if the case should be moved to Chester Crown Court.

Curtis Barlow, 32, of The Quadrant, Droylsden, admitted taking coins and metal artefacts from Roche Abbey between December 13-15, 2019.

Gary Flanagan, 33, of Winton Avenue, Audenshaw, admitted taking coins and metal artefacts from Beeston Castle and Roche Abbey between December 13-30, 2019. He was also charged with taking an axe head from Beeston Castle, a charge which he denied and the prosecution therefore withdrew.

Daniel James Lloyd, 33, of Beech Avenue, Droylsden, admitted taking an axe head, coins and other metal artefacts from Beeston Castle between December 13-30, 2019.

John Andrew Lorne, 29, of Sunnyside Road, Droylsden, admitted taking an axe head, coins and other metal artefacts from Beeston Castle between December 13-30, 2019, and removing coins and metal artefacts from Roche Abbey between December 28-30, 2019.

Francis James Ward, 32, of Dingle Drive, Droylsden, admitted taking an axe head, coins and other metal artefacts from Beeston Castle between December 13-30, 2019. He also admitted producing a small quantity of cannabis.

Prosecuting, Ben Stanley said police were tipped off about a series of artefacts trying to be sold to an antiques dealer, who became suspicious.

Police searched Ward’s address and found a phone containing a Whatsapp metal detecting group, with the five men involved.

Analysis of the respective heritage sites confirmed the defendants had been present.

Mr Stanley explained the prosecution would be looking to impose a Criminal Behaviour Order which would prevent the men from possessing metal detectors in a public place.

Michael Gray, defending Lorne, said they would be looking to challenge a CBO application.

None of the five defendants had any previous convictions.

They will next appear at Chester Magistrates Court on May 7.

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