Heartbreak for Suffolk diver
HEARTBREAK looms large for Jerry Sullivan today after he and four fellow divers were forced to return sunken treasure worth £100,000. The Woodbridge man has been left empty-handed after a major international police operation ruled their find as stolen – forcing the divers to return their bounty to Italy.
HEARTBREAK looms large for Jerry Sullivan today after he and four fellow divers were forced to return sunken treasure worth £100,000.
The Woodbridge man has been left empty-handed after a major international police operation ruled their find as stolen – forcing the divers to return their bounty to Italy.
Mr Sullivan, along with Nicholas and Terence Pearson, of Great Yarmouth, David Dixon, of Aylsham, Kerr Sinclair, of Corton, thought it was a dream come true when they discovered a wreck near the island of Elba off Italy.
Among the valuables they discovered were 311 gold coins, mainly French and Spanish, 2000 silver coins, a quantity of loose diamonds, a gold locket -thought to contain a lock of Napoleon's hair- and the ship's toilet.
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But the day before the treasure was due to be auctioned, it was seized from an auction house in London in a joint operation by British and Italian Police.
During the subsequent year-long investigation, three of the divers were arrested and later cautioned for handling stolen goods.
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Mr Sinclair, of Corton, near Lowestoft, vowed never to dive for bounty again.
"I will never bring a shipwrecked cargo into this country because that is where I feel the problem started. Blood, sweat and tears went into getting and we lost it on a technicality," he said.
In June last year, the divers stumbled across £100,000 of treasure while they were searching for a different wreck.
Instead of finding The Glen Logan, a merchant ship sunk by a German U-boat in the Mediterranean in 1916, they found what is believed to be The Pollux.
But Mark Clark, spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency refutes the claim that the divers lost the horde on a technicality.
"What they did was illegal under Italian law. It is normal practice to declare any wreck landed in the UK from outside UK waters to the Receiver of Wrecks, however, if it is from another country's territorial waters that country's laws would take precedence.
"We believe they had obtained permission from the Italian Government to investigate the Glen Logan, however, they actually salvaged the wreck of the Pollux - which they had not received permission to investigate.