Chatham: Jail Over Fake Bomb Detectors

A Kent businessman who sold fake bomb detectors around the world has been jailed for seven years.

Gary Bolton, 47, of Redshank Road, Chatham sold the phoney devices to international clients for up to #10,000 each, boasting that they could detect explosives, narcotics, ivory, tobacco and even money.

But a judge at the Old Bailey described the equipment as "useless'' and "dross''.

The devices were no more than boxes with handles and antennae that Bolton made at home.

Tests carried out showed the GT200 devices - which cost less than £5 to make - were no better at detection than random chance, yet Bolton continued to market them and sell them around the world.

He denied two counts of fraud but was convicted by a jury at the Old Bailey last month.

Sentencing the father-of-three, judge Richard Hone QC said Bolton had maintained the "little plastic box'' was a piece of working equipment, and that he continued to "peddle'' it to scores of international clients - including for use by armed forces - despite evidence proving it was "useless''.

He added: "You were determined to bolster the illusion that the devices worked and you knew there was a spurious science to produce that end.

"They had a random detection rate. They were useless. Soldiers, police officers, customs officers and many others put their trust in a device which worked no better than random chance.

The court was told Bolton's company, Global Technology Ltd, had a turnover of almost £3 million, with up to 5,000 devices made.

Bulk orders meant the GT200 was sold for between £2,500 and £10,000, although they retailed at up to £15,000 if bought individually, the court was told.

Around 1,200 devices were sold to Mexico, while orders were also shipped to parts of Asia and the Middle East. The devices are still being used in Thailand, the court heard.

Bolton was arrested in June 2010 following an investigation by City of London Police's overseas corruption unit.

Detective Inspector Roger Cook said: "Gary Bolton made a fortune selling devices that were supposed to be able to detect explosives and other harmful substances but in reality were nothing more than plastic handles with aerials as antennae. In doing so he was putting people's lives and livelihoods at serious risk, but his sole consideration was how much money he could make.

"Bringing Bolton to justice is the result of a long, complex and far reaching international investigation and his seven-year prison sentence should act as a warning to others who seek to act corruptly overseas with the belief that they will go undetected.''

Bolton's sentence came after fellow conman James McCormick was jailed for 10 years earlier this year for three counts of fraud from selling fake bomb detectors.

McCormick, 57, of Langport in Somerset, was said to have made £50 million from his scam.

Representing Bolton, Jonathan Higgs QC told the court that his client's offending - between 2007 and 2012 - was not on the same level as McCormick's. He said: "There is no suggestion that these devices were to be sold to and deployed as frontline devices to counter terrorist threat.

"The countries to which tenders were made were using these devices for a range of different detections.'' He added: "This is a device which was sold honestly to start with.''

But the judge said he did not accept that suggestion, also questioning the validity of a psychiatric report which said Bolton was believed to have "a depressive illness''.

The judge told Bolton: "You have damaged the reputation of British trade abroad. You gave spurious credibility to this product".