Pair to stand trial charged with failing to declare artefacts from warship wreck

Two men will stand trial after pleading not guilty to charges in connection with the alleged removal of items from a wrecked Royal Navy warship in the English Channel.

John Blight, 57, and Nigel Ingram 56, are accused of failing to declare artefacts taken from HMS Hermes to the Receiver of Wreck.

Built in the late 19th century, Hermes was torpedoed by a German submarine in the Dover Strait in October 1914, with the loss of 22 lives.

It was a protected cruiser and was converted into an aircraft ferry and depot ship ready for the outbreak of the First World War.

At Margate Magistrates' Court, Blight, of Old River Way in Winchelsea, near Rye, East Sussex, pleaded not guilty to three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose items of wreck to the Receiver of Wreck with intent to make a gain.

Ingram, of London Road, Teynham, Kent, has been charged with the same three counts, plus two other charges including being in possession of alleged criminal property.

He also pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Magistrates granted the pair conditional bail and they will next appear at a pre-trial hearing at Canterbury Crown Court on March 31.

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