Plasterer left with nothing after van burned outside Co Down home
Jonny Beattie says he is having to restart from scratch, after only two trowels survived the blaze.
A plasterer from Co Down has spoken of his devastation after his work van was set on fire, destroying equipment worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Jonny Beattie, 32, from Bangor, says he is having to restart from nothing, after only two trowels survived the blaze.
He found his white van alight in the early hours of Saturday outside the home he shares with his wife and two young children.
There were a number of arson attacks in the greater Belfast area late last week following a dispute over a bonfire in the east of the city.
Anger was sparked after police moved in to remove the material from a bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in east Belfast in the early hours of Wednesday.
Bonfire builders set it alight before the material could be seized.
Later on Wednesday, a bonfire was removed under police supervision before it could be lit.
On Wednesday evening a bus was hijacked and set alight in Newtownards, with a number of cars burned in Dundonald.
The incident in Bangor on Saturday is being investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) as a suspected arson attack.
Mr Beattie said he was woken at about 2.15am to find his van on fire.
“We were all asleep, the neighbours saw it and came over and banged the windows,” Mr Beattie told the Press Association.
“I ran out and saw my van on fire. I tried to get some of the equipment out to save it but I couldn’t.
“I couldn’t believe it, watching my livelihood going up in flames.”
Mr Beattie bought the van eight months ago.
He has estimated the cost of the van and the equipment inside, including fishing rods, as almost £40,000.
“I have been left with nothing, just two trowels, and I am not even sure whether they are worth saving,” he said.
“I bought that van for £30,000, and then put the company logo on it.
“Then there was £5,000 to £8,000 worth of tools, and also my fishing rods from taking the kids out fishing.
“There was also paperwork and money from the last job which I didn’t get time to bank.”
Mr Beattie said that through his company JB Plastering and Building he has employees dependent on him for work, and currently has 19 jobs booked in.
“I have to get back to work, I have spent the weekend messaging customers to tell them what happened,” he said.
“Some other guys are going to lend me spare tools.”
He said he has no idea who was behind the attack, which has left his family frightened.
“My kids are staying somewhere else at the minute, they have special needs and are terrified,” he said.
“I don’t want to stay here either, but it is difficult when you have dogs to find somewhere to rent.
“I can’t understand why anyone would do this, to destroy a man’s livelihood.
“All I do is work, building up my business.
“My head is just all over the place, but I am determined to keep going.”
A PSNI spokesman has urged anyone with information about the incident in Bangor or who saw anyone acting suspiciously to contact Bangor police station on the non-emergency number 101.