A MAN jailed after finding Viking coins worth £5.2million has told a court how he gambled it all away.
Metal detectorist George Powell, 40, failed to declare the rare coins and jewellery he discovered on a Herefordshire farm back in 2015 admitting greed got the better of him.
Powell has since spoken out for the first time admitting he wanted to get rich by selling the ancient finds.
It is estimated around 300 coins with a value of £5,285,250 were buried at the farm for over 1,000 years – but Powell claims to have only found 51.
He was jailed for 10 years in 2019 alongside fellow rogue detectorist Layton Davies, 54, – but a court has heard Davis knew nothing about the sale of any coins.
Despite this, Davis was jailed for eight-and-a-half years for theft and concealment.
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Powell, from Newport, South Wales, admitted selling 20 of the coins to bent dealer Simon Wicks – who he met at service stations on the M4.
Wicks was also jailed for five years for concealment.
And at a proceeds of crime hearing at Worcester Crown Court last week, Powell said he "gambled it [the money] away" because he's got a "naughty habit".
"We are metal detectorists, you want to become rich to get the payout, it's a treasure hunting hobby," he added.
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Davies, a grandad from Pontypridd, was said to have told Powell to hand over the treasure and told the court he was in the "wrong place at the wrong time," reports the Mirror.
School technician Davies told barrister Terence Woods: "I wasn’t involved in anything to do with the coins or passing them on.”
Powell claimed the reasoning behind not declaring the treasure was because the farmer who gave them permission to search, told them the land was owned by Lord Cawley who died over 20 years ago.
When asked why he'd decided to change his mind and give evidence for the first time, Powell said prison had made him realise what he's done wrong and he's got "nothing to lose".
He also said he felt "partially" guilty about Davis' prison sentence but he is a "grown man" and "didn't have to be there".
Treasure must legally be declared and if later sold, the money should be equally shared between the landowner and the person who found it.
In this case, Powell and Davies could have got hundreds of thousands of pounds each if simply declaring – but instead they were sentenced to prison.
The find included a 9th Century gold ring, one silver ingot, a small crystal rock pendent and a dragon's head arm bracelet.
In amongst the coins were the rare "two emperors" which depict King Alfred of Wessex and Ceolwulf II of Mercia during the start of England's formation.
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They are now on display at the Hereford Museum Resource and Learning Centre after being purchased for £776,250.
The Judge is due to hand down his proceeds of crime ruling at the same court next month when the men could face further jail time.
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