Advertising

Deputy asks States to pay compensation of £360,000 to Islander who lost tow truck company

News | Published:

Roy Boschat lost his vehicle recovery business
  • States asked to pay £360,000 compensation to Islander who lost his business
  • Deputy Terry McDonald has lodged proposition in support of Roy Boschat, who ran a breakdown recovery firm
  • Mr Boschat says that his company failed after allegations that the police were favouring his business over others
  • Should Mr Boschat receive compensation? Take our poll below

THE States are being asked to pay £360,000 in compensation to a businessman who claims he lost his company following allegations that he offered favours to the police to generate business for his breakdown recovery firm.

St Saviour Deputy Terry McDonald has lodged a proposition - his first since being elected eight months ago - requesting the money be paid to Roy Boschat, who ran a breakdown recovery service which was regularly used by the police to remove vehicles following road accidents.

The Deputy claims that the business suffered hugely after a police investigation in 2006 into why the company was receiving the bulk of the work.

Two other towing companies and the then deputy police chief Lenny Harper claimed that Mr Boschat was influencing friends within the force to ensure that he received the business.

The States police investigated and removed Mr Boschat from a rota of towing companies used by the force.

Deputy Terry McDonald outside the States building

At the same time, Mr Harper sent a letter to the 12 parish Constables advising them not to use Mr Boschat's company. Mr Boschat was later investigated for bribery and corruption but the charges against him were dropped.

Advertising

In his proposition, Deputy McDonald said: 'In mid-2005, complaints were made to the States police by two of the vehicle recovery businesses that the bulk of police towing and recovery work was being undertaken by Roy Boschat and that the work was allegedly being influenced by "grace and favours" being given to a number of police officers by Mr Boschat.

'In actual fact, Mr Boschat's prices were lower than the other companies. Additionally, Mr Boschat had been in business for 20 years.'

The proposition states that a review by the Sussex police force found no evidence of misconduct by Mr Boschat and recommended that his company be reinstated to the recovery rota, although this did not happen.

Deputy McDonald, who himself was granted £50,000 by the States in 2013 (see below) following a cancelled world-record fireworks display, added: 'Over the past few years, Mr Boschat has made strenuous efforts to obtain restitution for the injustice which has been visited on him.

Advertising

'The police, in their turn, are willing to admit that Mr Boschat has been treated extremely badly.

'As a result of the actions taken against Mr Boschat, he has lost both his business and his house and his marriage has been destroyed.'

The proposition is due to be debated on Tuesday 23 June.

Terry McDonald in 2007

WHEN a professor from Plymouth University successfully launched almost 57,000 rockets over Plymouth in 2006, it set in train a series of events that changed Terry McDonald's life forever.

The launch smashed his own world record set in 1997 for the most rockets fired almost simultaneously – 39,210 set off at that year's Battle of Flowers Moonlight Parade.

Having lost the title, the former policeman set about planning how to reclaim the crown for Jersey, and reclaim it with the help of 125,000 rockets.

And it seemed – then at least – that fate was on his side as the tides were due to be perfect for a world-record firework display on the beach on the date of the next Moonlight Parade on Friday 10 August 2007.

Terry McDonald spent nearly two years guarding the fireworks

Over the next 11 months preparations were made, a permit was issued by the Bailiff allowing the event to take place, 125,000 rockets were ordered and Mr McDonald – a highly respected member of the community well known by many – paid out thousands of pounds to pay for platforms to be built for the fireworks, the cost of the fireworks themselves and to have them transported to Jersey.

As launch day drew near, however, the plans hit rocks.

Environmental campaigners raised concerns about so many fireworks being let off in one go and the Environment department warned that a pollution incident could lead to Mr McDonald being prosecuted under the water pollution law.

It did, however, say that there was no reason to expect that such an incident would take place providing that a proper strategy was in place to mitigate the risks.

Environment officers were among a small group who watched a test-firing of 20 rockets in St Aubin's Bay the week before the world record attempt was due to take place.

The then Environment Minister, Senator Freddie Cohen, also pledged his support for the launch. But, the concerns continued and, on the eve of the launch and just two hours before the fireworks arrived in the Island, Mr McDonald, amid mounting pressure, felt he had no choice but to cancel the event.

As a result, a grant offered by Economic Development to cover many of the costs that had been incurred did not materialise and Mr McDonald was left with a set of mounting bills and 125,000 fireworks he could not use.

Mr McDonald tried to sell off the rockets, which cost £17,000, but three potential UK buyers pulled out.

So, he set up camp in a caravan in a secret location (now known to be Ronez quarry) to guard his rockets – by now housed in shipping containers – night and day for what he called 'security reasons'.

Debt collectors were knocking at his door, court action was threatened and Mr McDonald – who estimated that his debts had risen to around £100,000 because of the costs of storing the fireworks – even considered suing the States.

After 618 nights sleeping in that caravan he was finally asked to leave by the owners of the site.

He did so, but the fireworks remained until they were destroyed by bomb disposal experts in February 2011.

However, the story did not die with the fireworks and the hope of another world record for Rocketman.

A month later States Members unanimously backed calls from the then Deputy Phil Rondel for an investigation into what went wrong. The report, written by the Home Affairs, Environment and Economic Development departments, that followed that inquiry was published in September of that year and concluded that no compensation needed to be paid out of the public purse.

It said that Mr McDonald had done everything correctly in the build up to the event but ultimately concluded that the cancellation of the world record attempt was down to him and not to the States.

It was a verdict that Rocketman and his supporters, both inside the States Assembly and out, were not prepared to accept and the wheels were set in motion for another proposition, this time from Deputy Steve Luce, who had not been in the House when the first one was debated.

In the meantime, Mr McDonald was forced to sell the home he had inherited from his mother to pay off his debts.

Every penny he owed was cleared but Rocketman's life had been changed forever.

In November 2013, that turbulent period of Mr McDonald's life finally came to an end when States Members voted 29 to 14, with two abstentions, to pay him £50,000 compensation.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Advertising

Top Stories

Advertising

More from the JEP

UK & International News