LONDON - A British businessman at the centre of a money-laundering investigation was jailed on Friday for more than eight years for targeting two lawyers with fake bombs in the heart of London's legal district.

Jonathan Nuttall, 50, pursued a vendetta against two barristers representing Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) in the agency's attempt to recover assets from him.

Prosecutors said Nuttall orchestrated the plot with his driver Michael Sode, 59, and former soldier Michael Broddle, 47, who planted devices which were designed to look like genuine explosives.

The aim, they said, was to intimidate Andrew Sutcliffe and Anne Jeavons, who were acting for the NCA in a civil lawsuit brought at the High Court in London.

Broddle planted the two fake bombs in Gray's Inn, one of the historic four Inns of Court in central London, and left another outside Sutcliffe and Jeavons' chambers – offices from which barristers work – in September 2021.

Both devices "had the name of Andrew Sutcliffe marked on them", prosecutor Catherine Farrelly told jurors during a trial at London's Old Bailey.

Broddle had previously conducted a six-month surveillance operation against Sutcliffe, Jeavons and their families, she said.

Nuttall and Sode were both convicted of two counts of conspiracy to plant the devices and conspiracy to transfer criminal property, relating to payments made to Broddle.

Broddle had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to plant the devices and two counts of possession of an explosive substance.

The trio appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey on Friday where Judge Simon Mayo said they had all been involved in a "malicious, bold and extremely serious attack on those involved in the administration of justice".

He sentenced Nuttall to eight years and two months in prison, Sode to six-and-a-half years and Broddle to seven.

Farrelly read a statement from Sutcliffe, in which he said he was shocked to have been targeted in a "mafioso-like way" in an attempt to disrupt the NCA's case.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; editing by Mark Heinrich)