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West businessman denies selling fake bomb detectors

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 14, 2012

A businessman is to stand trial for selling useless bomb detectors to security forces on patrol in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jim McCormick, 55, allegedly raked in £50m trading the bogus devices for use in war zones around the world.

His firm, ATSC, based in Yeovil, Somerset, sold 6,500 devices at between £1,000 and £40,000 each, claiming they could detect not only explosives but also drugs, ivory, diamonds and cash.

McCormick had customers in Iraq, Hong Kong, Belgium, Kenya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Romania, it is claimed.

Prosecutor David Levy told a previous hearing: "We say the items concerned are totally useless. Because of these devices loss of life has occurred."

McCormick and five other defendants are due to stand trial for fraudulently selling the fake detectors during the last five years.

Businessman Gary Bolton, 46, is accused of raking in £1m by making and selling around 2,000 of the GT200 Detection Devices in a separate ruse to McCormick's.

Prosecutors say his device, sold on the claim it can detect explosives, was in reality nothing more than a 'plastic box with an antenna'.

McCormick and Bolton appeared at City of London Magistrates Court yesterday alongside Samuel Tree, 65, his wife Joan, 60, and Simon Sherrard.

The couple and Sherrard, 49, are accused of running a similar scam to sell the Alpha 6 explosive detection device.

Sherrard allegedly made and sold the bogus products through his firm Comstrac Ltd, based in Lyttleton Lane, Hampstead, north London.

A sixth defendant, Anthony Williamson, 57, is charged with selling the XK9 device claiming it is a bomb detector.

All six defendants appeared in court for a brief administrative hearing, and were sent to the Old Bailey for a hearing on October 18.

McCormick was arrested and charged on July 12 following a two-and-a-half year investigation by the Avon and Somerset Police. The five co-defendants were charged the following day.

McCormick, of Hambridge, Langport, Somerset, denies three counts of possessing articles for use in fraud and three counts of making or supplying articles for use in fraud knowing they were designed or adapted for use in fraud.

Sherrard, of East Finchley, London, is accused of possessing and controlling an article for use in fraud and making or supplying and item for use in fraud.

The Trees, of Dunstable, Bedfordshire, both face one charge of making or supplying an article for use in fraud through their company Keygrove International.

They deny the charges.

Williamson, of Gosport, Hampshire, has not yet entered a plea to one count of making or supplying the XK9 device for use in fraud.

Bolton, of St. Marys Island, Chatham, Kent, is accused with one count out fraud by false representation and one count of making or supplying an item for use in fraud between January 2012 and July this year.

He has yet to enter a plea, and will appear alongside the other five at the next hearing.

McCormick, who was initially denied bail, is subject to a 9pm to 6am curfew and has had to put up a £20,000 surety.

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