A British businessman was sentenced to 10 years in jail after a judge described him as having “blood on his hands” for selling fake bomb detectors to Iraq and other countries and endangering lives for profit.
James McCormick, 56, was convicted of fraud last week for selling the fake detectors, which were based on a $20 novelty machine for finding lost golf balls.
He appeared in court for sentencing on Thursday.
Your profits were obscene. You have neither insight, shame, nor any sense of remorse.
Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from outside London’s Old Bailey court, said Judge Richard Hone told McCormick he had shown a “cavalier disregard for the potential consequences of his crime”.
“The judge in passing sentence said he had been unable to imagine a more serious crime of its kind,” our correspondent said.
McCormick, a former policeman and salesman, amassed a small fortune of, by his own estimation, about $50m through the sale of the fake bomb detectors to countries such as Iraq and Georgia.
His customers also included the UN.
“He knew they didn’t work, the court had heard, because they were based on little more than a novelty golf ball finder that he bought in the United States,” our correspondent said.
“Nevertheless, he claimed that his devices could detect drugs, suspicious persons and explosives. They could work from the air or underwater track, and objects up to a kilometre underground.”
Judge Hone said that McCormick used a callous confidence trick probably to have contributed to the deaths of innocent people.
“The device was useless, the profit outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category,” Hone said.
“Your profits were obscene. You have neither insight, shame, nor any sense of remorse.”
‘No working components’
The devices had promoted a false sense of security which probably contributed to the death and injury of innocent people, the judge said.
The detectors were sold for up to $62,000 each, but had no working components and lacked any basis in science, the court was told.
McCormick was convicted of fraud for manufacturing and selling the hand-held “ADE 651” devices to countries at serious risk from bomb attacks such as Iraq.
During his trial, McCormick said he had sold his detectors to police in Kenya, the prison service in Hong Kong, the army in Egypt and border control in Thailand.
They were also sold in Niger and Georgia and between 2008 and 2010, Iraq bought 6,000 devices.
McCormick, from Somerset in southwest England, maintained the detectors did work.
“I never had any negative results from customers,” he said.