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
ebooksNow available in paperback
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines