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Bomb-detector conman found guilty
James McCormick, the 57-year-old Somerset millionaire who sold fake bomb-detection kits based on novelty golf-ball finders worth less than €15, is facing jail after being found guilty of fraud, reports the Telegraph’s Melanie Hall. He is reported to have sold the devices for as much as €31,000 each to customers including the Iraqi government, the UN, Kenyan police, Hong Kong prison service, Egyptian army, Thailand’s border control, Saudi Arabia – and the Belgian police. The ineffectual detectors were used by soldiers and peacekeepers in the field, putting lives at risk, with McCormick thought to have made an estimated €60 million from sales of his three models to Iraq, Belgium and the UN for use in Lebanon. Detective Inspector Ed Heath, who led Avon and Somerset Police’s three-year investigation, said: “It is clear that both civilians and armed forces personnel were put at significant risk in relying upon this equipment.” McCormick, who worked from a cramped office in Somerset, claimed his devices could detect minuscule traces of explosives, class A drugs, ivory and human beings at a distance of up to 1km at ground level and from a plane flying 5km high. Brochures marketing the fake bomb detectors under the Advanced Detection Equipment brand promised that the devices could also pick up substances up to 30m underwater or 10m underground, as well as through walls. Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, said: “The devices did not work and he knew they did not work. He made them knowing that they were going to be sold as something that it was claimed was simply fantastic. You may think those claims are incredible. He had them manufactured so that they could be sold – and despite the fact they did not work, people bought them for a handsome but unwarranted profit.” It was no better than trying to detect explosives at random, said Whittam. McCormick was granted conditional bail to allow him to get his affairs in order before being sentenced on May 2.