A MAN has admitted trying to sell a 90-year-old war memorial plaque for scrap metal the day after it was stolen.

Michael Coyle of Mellock Lane, Little Neston, initially denied attempting to make cash from selling the First World War plaque that was plundered from the Christ Church memorial in Willaston earlier this year.

Chester Magistrates Court heard how the copper panel, which was worth £1,130 when it was erected in 1921, was reported missing on July 30.

Prosecutor Catherine Whincup told the court how CCTV footage showed Coyle on that day, at KJ Bell Scrap Metal merchants on Cedab Road, Ellesmere Port, trying to sell a piece of metal that appeared similar to the missing plaque.

At first the scrapyard attendant did not notice the nature of the metal, which had been folded over, and valued it at £183.30.

But on closer inspection, he saw the inscription on the plaque which read, ‘In memory of those who lost their lives’ and realising what it was, declined to accept it, and Coyle left the premises.

But when police tracked him down at his home, he denied he had ever been to the scrap yard.

Defending, Adrian Evans told the court that Coyle claimed he had been approached by a ‘loose’ male acquaintance who asked him to take the metal to a scrap yard.

He said that Coyle had returned the metal to the man who gave it to him, but was warned not to bring the his name into it for fear of ‘consequences’.

Mr Evans described his client as ‘deeply resentful and extremely ashamed and upset at his actions’, even though he ‘can’t turn the clock back’.

He added: “He does accept the aggravating feature is the very nature of the stolen item and he bitterly regrets his actions on this occasion.”

The missing plaque, which lists the names of all the men who gave their lives in the first world war, has not been found, and will cost about £7,000 to replace.

Coyle will return to court tomorrow, December 15, to be sentenced, and was told by magistrates he could face jail.