One of two men accused of trying to arrange the sale of valuable rare Anglo-Saxon coins had made internet searches over the law relating to finds of treasure, a court heard.

The prosecution state that Roger Pilling made a Google search for ‘The Treasure Act’ and ‘latest Treasure Act’, in February 2019, as his co-accused, Craig Anthony Best, was trying to tout the coins to potential buyers.

Durham Crown Court was told that at the time the pair, Best from Bishop Auckland and Pilling, from Lancashire, were in regular contact by telephone.

The Crown claims that Pilling was in possession of the coins, thought to be from an undeclared, previously-buried Viking hoard, knowing “full well” of his obligations under the Treasure Act to declare or report them.

Read more: US expert tells trial he thought Viking hoard coins on offer were fake

Phone contact and messaging between the pair, and with others, in the weeks before a police undercover meeting was arranged at which Best was arrested with a sample of three of the coins, has been outlined to the jury.

Evidence analyst Karen Gaskell pinpointed the many calls between the defendants and the internet searches made by Pilling in the period prior to the fateful meeting, at Durham’s Royal County Hotel, on May 9, 2019.

Other than looking up the Treasure Act 1996, Pilling also searched for, ‘The Association of International Dealers in Antiquities and Art’, ‘UK Treasure Trove Act Changes’, and ‘Museums Acquisition Policy’, ‘The National Council for Metal Detecting’, plus ‘New Treasure Act’, and ‘Code of Practice.’

When Pilling’s house was searched after Best’s attendance and arrest at the May meeting, a further 41 of the coins were recovered on top of the three seized from his co-accused in Durham.

Read more: Jury told of Bishop Auckland man's bid to 'sell' Viking hoard coins

Police also found a printed off newspaper article about the prosecution of two men over a previously undeclared hoard.

Matthew Donkin, prosecuting, told the jury in his opening address: “If the two defendants in this trial are innocent, then they were not only on notice of the importance and value of the coins and failed to declare or report them, but they were even on notice of a prosecution of metal detectorists for failing to report a find and trying to sell the coins, but carried on regardless.

“The assertion of innocence is something that the jury can safely reject.”

Read next:

Rare coin 'seller' unaware would-be buyer was undercover cop

Experts in old coins will give views over provenance of Viking hoard at Durham trial next April

Pair in court after Durham Police find £1m Viking coins

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Both 46-year-old Best, of South View, Bishop Auckland, and Pilling, 75, of Loveclough, Rossendale, in Lancashire, deny jointly conspiring to convert criminal property (the coins).

They each also deny and a single count each of possessing criminal property.

The trial continues today (Wednesday April 19).