Conman James McCormick jailed for 10 years over fake bomb detectors

Judge who told him that he had blood of the innocent on his hands

A millionaire British businessman who sold bogus bomb detectors to countries at war, with hundreds being killed and maimed by explosive devices, was jailed for ten years yesterday by a judge who told him that he had blood of the innocent on his hands.

James McCormick is due to be freed under licence after five years of his sentence. However, he also faces another ten years in prison if he fails to disclose the whereabouts of the money - “obscene profits,” said Judge Richard Hone - from the sale of the devices which were based on novelty golf ball finders.

McCormick, a former policeman, made $75 million (£48 million) from the Iraqi government alone. Sequestration orders have been made on properties he owns in Britain which includes a £3.5 million home in Bath which used to be owned by the actor Nicolas Cage, a £2.5 million farmhouse in Somerset and a £600,000 yacht.

Detectives say they are tracing a money trail abroad; a series of hearings will take place, culminating in May next year, about the amount which he would have to surrender. The ‘golf ball finders’, which did not work, cost around $20 (£13) each; McCormick sold them for $40,000 (£26,000) each to the Iraqi government.

A former employee of the company which produced the devices, ATSC, recalled that when McCormick was challenged that the ‘detectors’ did not work, he responded “yes they do, they make lots of money.”

The Iraqi government is expected to make representations to secure some of the money as compensation for bomb victims in the country. However, it is believed that McCormick managed to get his contracts by the use of massive bribes.

Major General Jihad al-Jibiri, the head of the interior ministry’s directorate of combat explosives, is under arrest on suspicion of corruption over the purchase from McCormick.

Judge Hone told McCormick: "What you perpetrated was a callous confidence trick. 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, funding grand houses, a greedy and extravagant lifestyle and even a yacht. You have neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse."

"I am wholly satisfied that your fraudulent conduct in selling so many useless devices for simply enormous profit promoted a false sense of security and in all probability materially contributed to causing death and injury to innocent individuals. You fought the case in the teeth of overwhelming evidence, in a last desperate gamble, you rolled the dice and you lost.

The Old Bailey court heard statements from British army officers that bomb blasts killing civilians in Baghdad occurred after truck bombs and other explosives had passed through checkpoints manned by security officers using the fake detectors. In a statement read out by Richard Whitam QC, prosecuting, Brigadier Simon Marriner said: "The inescapable conclusion is that devices have been detonated after passing through checkpoints. Iraqi civilians have died as a result."

Detective Inspector Ed Heath, a senior officer who investigated the case, said “This is not over by any means, we are tracing where he may have money hidden and this will be actively pursued. He will also have to disclose the whereabouts of funds he has and if he fails to do so he can expect another ten year sentence, this time no licence after five years. He is a conman who simply did not care about the costs in human terms for the profits he made.”

A group of Iraqis had waited outside the Old Bailey for the sentence. One of them, Nidhal Ailshbib, said "This man was responsible for exploiting a terrible situation for money, what a terrible thing to do. It is not just that he made money from deaths, he also put millions into the corruption which is so bably affecting our country to this day."

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
music
News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

Voices
Jules and Delaney
voices
Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

News
people
Life and Style
gaming
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes