A METAL dectector enthusiast has been convicted of theft in so-called ‘nighthawking’ trips in the Horncastle area.
Kevin Thomas Lomas, 40, of Scholes, Rotherham, faced nine allegations of theft between January 1 and July 8 2011, one allegation of going equipped for theft on June 5 and two allegations of possession of criminal property at his home on July 8.
He denied all the offences but was convicted of eight offences of theft and of going equipped for theft by District Judge John Stobart at Skegness Magistrates Court last week.
Lomas was ordered to forfeit his metal detecting equipment - worth around £1,300 - and was given a 12 months conditional discharge. He was also ordered to pay £400 in costs.
The judge said he was being lenient due to Lomas losing his equipment.
Prosecution said that between 2010 and 2012, there had been reports of 11 incidents of holes being dug on farmland in Lincolnshire, averaging 25 holes in each incident.
The court was told the holes were almost certainly caused by metal detector enthusiasts digging on land without permission.
These complaints triggered a police investigation and Lomas’ vehicle had been recorded coming into and out of Lincolnshire late at night - and in the early hours of the morning - on 11 different occasions between April 17 and June 3 2011.
When his vehicle was stopped on June 5 on the A158 at Baumber, it was found to contain three metal detectors.
After a police raid at his home in July 2011, police found a large quantity of objects - brooches, coins, pins and seals - two of which were found to have precious metal content in excess of 10 per cent which should have been declared as treasure to the Coroner.
It also transpired that between July 2010 and May 2011, Lomas advertised 56 items on E-Bay and had sold approximately 30 of them.
He had also entered the items referred to in the charges on to the UK Detectors database for recording finds. He stated they had all been found in May 2011 by him in Lincolnshire.
In defence, Lomas said his trips into Lincolnshire at night with friends had been to use metal detectors on the beaches around Skegness and he had not gone on to land without permission.
He also claimed that items found at his home had been legitimately purchased by him from friends or dealers at trade shows.
Defending, Terry Boston said the suggestions the items found had been taken out of the ground were not ‘solid enough’ to be prove and claimed Lomas carried his metal detecting equipment around with him like fisherman carries his equipment.
Judge Stobart acquitted Lomas of the charges relating to the two items of ‘treasure’ but convicted him of eight allegations of theft and of going equipped for theft with his apparatus.
Judge Stobart added: “Anybody in future coming before me cannot expect anything like this leniency.”