Bomb detector sales scam denied by Somerset businessman James McCormick
A Somerset businessman sold bomb detector devices which were little more than golfball finders, the Old Bailey has been told.
The fake detectors had no grounding in science and made “fantastic” claims but were bought for “handsome” sums.
James McCormick’s Advanced Detection Equipment was marketed to the military, governments and police forces around the world, jurors were told. Brochures featuring men in military-type outfits promised detection of substances from planes, underwater, underground and through walls, said Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting yesterday.
But the three models, the ADE650, 651 and 101, were shams and did not work, he added. The forerunner of the 101, the 100, “was actually a golfball finder that could be purchased in the USA for less than 20 US dollars”.
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McCormick, 56, of Langport, South Somerset, denies three counts of fraud.
Mr Whittam said the devices were variously marketed as being able to detect all kinds of explosives, including TNT, drugs and even ivory, fluids and human beings.
They claimed to be able to bypass “all known forms of concealment” and be able to detect at distances. But Mr Whittam added: “The devices did not work and he knew they did not work. 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.”
Mr Whittam continued: “The devices that were sold were expensive. There was no fixed price but the 651 could be sold for as much as 40,000 US dollars to 5,995 US dollars.”
Experts had examined the three models and would be giving evidence. In their opinion, the 651, which replaced the 650, “lacks any grounding in science, nor does it work in accordance with the known laws of physics. The ADE 651 is completely ineffectual as a piece of detection equipment.”
It was no better than trying to detect explosives at random, said Mr Whittam. The devices were sold by McCormick and his companies along with training and “sensor cards”, the court heard. Mr Whittam told the jury McCormick bought 300 Golfinder novelty machines for finding golf balls from the US between 2005 and 2006. It was advertised as a “great novelty item” which used the customer’s body to “energize its actions”.
There were so many similarities, that it was found the 101 was the golf ball finder with different markings. The more sophisticated model was developed when new components were produced.
Mr Whittam added: “During 2007 the volume of devices required by James McCormick increased. He said this was due to a large contract he had obtained with the Iraqi government.”
Mr Whittam said: ‘‘The devices were sold to a number of countries. The ADE651 was mainly for use in Iraq.’‘
Despite its antenna not being connected to anything, they were also sold in Niger and Georgia.
Sensor cards slotted into the machine were colour-coded – orange for explosives, blue for drugs and red for humans.
Some had Arabic writing on them for the Arab and Iraqi market, it was alleged.
Over one year, a company was paid £848,340 for just under 6,000 top-quality cases to house the detector units.
McCormick had used an International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators’ logo which he was not entitled to use.
After his arrest, McCormick said he had heard of the technology in 1994 and had reinvented it. Using basic high school physics, he came up with a mock version which worked and “the rest is history”, added Mr Whittam.
McCormick had also said: “It’s a phenomenon. It’s been known for a number of years.”
He said the sensor cards were put into a Kilner jar with a substance for a week to absorb the vapours.
The trial was adjourned to today.