AN IRAQ War veteran who raked in £60,000 selling bogus weapons training certificates to help former soldiers get jobs on anti-pirate ships has been jailed for two years.
Richard Stanley (38) drew up a “shopping list” of fake qualifications to enable veterans and Royal Marines to find work on merchant fleet-protecting vessels off the coast of Africa, the Old Bailey heard this week.
Stanley, of Doncaster Gate in Rotherham, had previously worked with G4S Armor Group but became disillusioned when the company hired former paratrooper Daniel Fitzsimmons, who shot dead two of his colleagues hours after arriving in Baghdad.
Judge said it was personally “upsetting” for him to be jailing the former soldier, who had served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Old Bailey heard that training companies Red Ensign and Euro Tactical had become suspicious at coming across large number of bogus certificates, which had rang alarm bells because they were all at “distinction” level, and alerted the Marine Coastguard Agency.
The certificates were the result of a conspiracy run by Stanley with businessman Andrew Downes (55), and Royal Marine Nicholas Borg (35).
The City of London Police Fraud Squad and Marine Coastguard Agency found that from August 2011 to February 2014, Stanley and Downes made and sold falsified certificates, qualifications and Criminal Record Bureau checks, including medical examinations, military references, firearms and seafarer safety certifications that enabled people to gain employment.
Stanley was charging up to £600 per certificate.
Detectives found Downes had even helped a former council worker Michael Andrews to falsely claim to be a qualified psychologist with a knighthood and a CBE.
Judge Cooke said: “The background here is of a serious conspiracy concerned with the certification needed by persons who would wish to work as guards on merchant vessels to protect these vessels against piracy.
“That would involve the use of heavy weapons and understandably is an area of employment which might attract discharged servicemen and involve people being trusted to apply lethal force.
“Stanley has served his country with distinction and it is a very sad day indeed that I must sentence him as I must. In this case I find it upsetting.
“He is a brave man but this is offending which strikes at the integrity of a system designed to ensure the regulation of something dangerous and important.”
Downes, who was involving in producing the certificates and is from Camarthenshire in Wales, earned a total of £10,796 from the scam and was also jailed for two years.
He told police he thought Stanley was an instructor on a training programme who needed certificates but later admitted it was a scam.
When he was arrested in September 2014, police found nearly 300 false certificates.
The fraud cost two training firms, Red Ensign and Euro Tactical, a total of more than £200,000 in lost business and reputation.
Borg, of Plymouth, earned £4,100 by referring fellow Royal Marines to Stanley for certificates in first aid, survival techniques and ship security.
He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years after the judge heard of his service in Afghanistan, where he protected the Embassy in Kabul.
Andrews, from west London, lied about having medical qualifications to get a job as a care manager for a mental health team at the London Borough of Richmond.
He later used bogus certificates to falsely claim he was a qualified forensic psychologist with a doctorate.
Described the judge as a “Walter Mitty, Billy Liar” character, Andrews was sentenced to ten months in prison.
The court heard Stanley had, while working for G4S, blown the whistle on the firm’s recruitment of Fitzsimmons in 2009 and supported the compensation fight by the widows of victims Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare.
He later appeared anonymously in a BBC Panorama documentary about the scandal and the Old Bailey heard he had since struggled with alcoholism.
His scam was discovered in October 2013 after the two training firms warned the Marine Coastguard Agency about the scale of bogus certificates in circulation.
Det Sgt Joanne Ferguson said: “These men have exploited respected industries and agencies for their own benefit with complete disregard for the individuals they may have put at risk.
“We are pleased to see justice done. This has been a long and complex case and I would like to take this opportunity to thank those involved for their commitment and determination.”