Beds Couple Convicted In Fake Detector Scam

3 October 2014, 13:02

A Dunstable man has been jailed for making bogus bomb detectors in his garden shed which he claimed could find missing Madeleine McCann.

68 year-old Sam Tree claimed the dud devices could track down explosives, drugs and people.

Detectives heralded the sentencing as the "concluding act in a highly complex, extensive and significant investigation" which has seen three other British con artists convicted of making fake detectors. It is believed the criminals made around £80m from the scam.

Tree was jailed for three and a half years at London's Kingston Crown Court after being found guilty at the Old Bailey in August of making an article for use in a fraud between January 2007 and July 2012.

His wife, Joan Tree, 62, was handed a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work in the community after being convicted over the same offence.

The Trees broke down in tears and embraced each other following the hearing.

The instruction manuals that accompanied their products claimed the user's own static electricity would power the aerial to move if it detected the substance it was searching for.

Judge Richard Marks QC told the pair: "The aerial would point to the vicinity or direction of the objects or person being looked at. One only has to look at the facts to see this as a bizarre and fantastic proposition as to be almost akin to something out of Alice in Wonderland.''

After the sentencing, Detective Constable Joanne Law, who led the investigation for the City of London Police said: "It really is just an empty plastic case. It's wishful thinking and nothing more.

It plays on people's desire to find a very simple solution to a very complex problem."

She said the detectors and the so-called science behind them were examined by experts who concluded "it's absolute rubbish, none of it is true".

The judge told Mrs Tree: "You should consider yourself extremely fortunate because you have come as close as anyone could to an immediate sentence in prison."'

He acknowledged that she had played a "much lesser role" than her husband in the fraud.