LONDON (Reuters) - A British businessman was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Thursday 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 equipment based on a $20 (13 pounds) novelty machine for finding lost golf balls.
McCormick made more than $40 million from sales in Iraq alone, British police say. His customers also included the United Nations.
Judge Richard Hone said at London’s Old Bailey court that McCormick had blood on his hands and used a callous confidence trick likely to have contributed to the death of innocent people.
“The device was useless, the profit outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category. Your profits were obscene. You have neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse,” Hone said, quoted by the Press Association.
McCormick had shown a “cavalier disregard of the potentially fatal consequences” of his deception, he added.
The useless 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 40,000 pounds each. But they had no working components and lacked any basis in science, the court heard.
McCormick was convicted of fraud last week for manufacturing and selling the hand-held “ADE 651” devices to countries at serious risk from bomb attacks such as Iraq, claiming they could detect explosives, drugs and other substances.
Marketing material claimed items could be detected up to 0.6 miles (1 km) underground, at up to 3 miles away from the air and 100 feet (33 metres) under water.
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, a former policeman and salesman from Somerset in south-western England, maintained the detectors did work.
“I never had any negative results from customers,” he said.
Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Angus MacSwan