- On 06/03/2011
- In Illegal Recoveries
An East Grinstead man has been cautioned for helping himself to historic shipwreck artefacts.
The 64-year-old man salvaged numerous pieces of galleon wood off the coast of Sussex, which he fashioned into items for sale including tables, mirrors and bookcases.
His identity has not been revealed by police but he is named as Keith on a website showcasing his merchandise.
Asked by the Courier & Observer if he knew the recovery was illegal, he replied "not at all".
The caution follows an investigation into two shipwrecks off the Sussex coastline conducted by Sussex Police in conjunction with English Heritage and the Receiver of Wreck who represents the government.
Among items listed for sale on the man's website are candle holders, for about £24 and lamp shade stands, for up to £245.
Receiver of Wreck Alison Kentuck said the legal owner of wreck material is always entitled to have their property back if, for example, it is found by divers or snorkelers.
She added: "On this occasion, alleged offences included damaging protected historic wrecks and removing material from them.
"This related particularly to the protected wrecks of the Anne, a 70-gun ship of the line that was run ashore in Rye Bay and burnt after the Battle of Beachy Head in 1690, and the Amsterdam, a Dutch VOC ship that was beached at Bulverhythe in 1749 after the crew mutinied."
Now that the artefacts have been recovered, the Receiver of Wreck begins a process to find the legal owner.
If the owner cannot be found within one year, the artefacts become the property of the crown or a grantee – a landowning beneficiary.