A company boss who endangered troops and cheated the Ministry of Defence (MOD) by selling it equipment unfit for purpose in a £1.4 million planned fraud has been jailed for three years and four months.
Carl Tiltman, 56, duped the Royal Navy into investing in underwater scanning technology after using fake test results to lie about its capabilities in his sales pitch.
Navy personnel were put at risk by carrying out "completely futile" live training operations to test the laser-emitting kit which "produced no meaningful results whatsoever", Southwark Crown Court heard.
Mr Tiltman, who worked for the MOD as a civilian in the 1980s, persuaded his former employers to place orders for specialist sonar imaging devices and safety equipment worth around £1.4 million while chief executive of Dorset-based Subsea Asset Location Technologies (Salt).
He appeared in court wearing a red fleece jacket and cargo trousers as he was sentenced on Friday.
Judge Christopher Hehir told him: "Your offending was clearly very serious indeed and in breach of a very high degree of trust reposed in you by both your company and service personnel.
"The offending was protracted in time and caused or contributed to very substantial financial loss and damage... as well as causing some risk to the life and limb of service personnel.
"I'm entirely satisfied you caused a loss of half a million pounds of actual financial losses. It is likely that the losses you actually caused were far higher than that."
Mr Tiltman, of Hawkchurch, Devon, admitted fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position in November.
Prosecutor John Greany said: "The deception started in earnest in May 2017 and at that stage, Mr Tiltman gave formal presentations about making specific claims about what the scanning equipment could achieve.
"Results... had been fabricated by Mr Tiltman.
"Not all of the roughly £1.4 million that might have been lost was in fact lost.
"Over £800,000 was mostly wasted... the actual loss was over £500,000."
The figures do not account for the "substantial and additional" staffing, training, and operational costs, Mr Greany said, adding that the MoD had also suffered reputational damage and embarrassment.
The main technology was called LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which uses lasers to detect and scan items like ships and underwater pipelines to produce images for analysis.
Tiltman had used the "rough" pictures produced "as the basis for his own, more detailed fabrication" to dupe officials, Mr Greany said.
But it exposed service personnel to unnecessary risk after they trained for up to eight months to carry out live training exercises with the heavy machinery which emitted lasers potentially harmful to eyesight, the court heard.
Cover image: PA.