A businessman who sold sub-standard runway lights to RNAS Culdorse had compromised the lifesaving work of its search and rescue team, resulting in “potentially disastrous consequences.”

This was the judgement from Truro Crown Court judge Christopher Harvey Clark, QC, when Keith Andre Spicer stood before him last week.

Spicer, aged 39, of Great Baddow in Chelmsford, Essex, admitted one charge of fraud involving the indicator lights by supplying different lights to the ones promised and paid for, between January and June 2012.

The court heard Spicer had charged the naval base £250,000 for the works, including roughly £87,000 for the lights, with the promise they would come from Research Engineers of Australia.

However, without the base’s knowledge, Spicer had changed the order to a different company, as he believed the product was better and he could also make more profit.

Yet these lights began to crack within six months, putting part of the base – from where the 771 squadron air-sea rescue service operates from – out of operation for three months.

Judge Clark said this resulted in the service being compromised “to some extent” and the supply of inferior lights could have had “some potentially disastrous consequences.”

Fortunately that risk did not materialise.

Spicer was sentenced to eight months in prison, which was suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 160 hours’ unpaid work. He must also pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs.