A technology firm boss who put Royal Navy personnel at risk by selling unsuitable equipment to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been jailed.
Carl Tiltman, 56, used fake test results to lie about the capabilities of underwater scanning technology worth £1.4m, designed by Dorset-based Subsea Asset Location Technologies (SALT).
He had worked at the MoD before becoming chief executive at the company, and managed to dupe his former employer into placing orders for specialist sonar imaging devices and safety gear.
Tiltman cited false test results during his sales pitch, and Southwark Crown Court heard how navy personnel were subsequently put at risk during “completely futile” live training operations with the new kit.
The judge in the case, Christoper Hehir, said Tiltman’s fraud had “caused or contributed to very substantial financial loss and damage… as well as causing some risk to the life and limb of service personnel”.
The main technology involved 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.
Claims made by Tiltman during his presentations, which began in May 2017, led to navy training sessions involving heavy machinery with lasers potentially damaging to eyesight.
One case saw the businessman persuade someone identified only as Soldier A that he had fitted a remote control system to the scanner, but they later worked out that it did not work as advertised.
Soldier A realised that he had to go back into the water to turn the scanner on and off – and that Tiltman appeared to have sabotaged the battery to cover-up his fraud.
Questions eventually started being asked after the MoD was warned by a third party in January 2018, and several charges were brought against Tiltman, who worked for the MoD in a civilian capacity in the 1980s.
He was charged with fraud by abuse of position, relating to lies told to his now-liquidated company about aviation technology he had been working on to help locate plane wreckages.
He admitted deceiving investors and directors of his firm by fabricating ongoing interest from companies like Airbus, months after discussions about buying the tech – called SkyBell – had ended.
Tiltman, of Hawkchurch in Devon, was told by the judge that his offending was “very serious” and that he had breached the trust placed in him “by both your company and service personnel”.
He was sentenced to two years for fraud by abuse of position and three years and four months for fraud by false representation, which will be served concurrently.