A man from Winchelsea in East Sussex has been arrested for a rather unorthodox charge.
John Blight, 58, along with Nigel Ingram, 57, failed to declare a host of items plundered from a WWI ship. The pair took items with a value of around £80,000 between them, failing to declare this.
The conviction came at Canterbury Crown Court. The pair were found out when a series of items were seized. These included the ships’ bells, a torpedo hatch, launch panel, metal ingots, and chinaware, with a further £16,000 in cash. All of this was undeclared.
The items came from HMS Hermes. The World War I Royal Navy vessel was sunk in 1914 by a German submarine in the Dover Strait.
The pair were charged for the “commercial exploitation of shipwrecks.” Judge Heather Norton stated that: “You acted together, you and Mr Ingram, to pillage the wreck without the knowledge of the maritime authorities, and scrapped items for financial gain.”
Ingram, from Kent, has been charged with four years in prison. He was charged for four counts of fraud and possession of criminal property. He was guilty on all five counts.
Blight was only charged with two counts of fraud, having faced four. He will face three and a half years in prison.