Boss has car set on fire after contractor folds

Grant Prior 13 years ago

The boss of failed Scottish contractor Chard Construction had his £45,000 Land Rover set on fire shortly after the company folded leaving subcontractors owed millions.

Stv reported that a court heard how Donald Ferguson watched as his car went up in flames outside his home in Jackton, South Lanarkshire, in February last year.

Ferguson’s firm once had a £45m turnover and employed 117 staff but went into administration in January 2010.

He was giving evidence at the trial of Stewart Paul, who is accused of an extortion bid on Ferguson and two other directors.

The 47-year-old denies the charge at Glasgow High Court and has incriminated a member of the British Security Services known as “Woody”.

The jury heard how problems on a hotel job  “completely killed cash-flow” forcing Chard into administration.

All 117 employees lost their jobs and 150 subcontractors were owed a combined £7m.

The following month Ferguson received a letter from a “Jim Smith” at his home at South Allerton Lodge, Jackton.

The sender also included a Sim card and asked Ferguson to put it into a mobile phone as it was “important” to speak to him.

He was later aware of a fire engine heading towards his estate and went out to discover his 4×4 was alight.

He then discovered a second letter with his name scrawled across the envelope.

It included the words: “You should have used the Sim card. All I want is a conversation. It will take minutes. It really is in your best interests.”

The court heard how Ferguson later made a “controlled call” at a police station to the number listed in the letter.

He told the jury the voice was male, but that he did not recognise it.

The other person said he “knew someone was listening” and told Ferguson to “take a walk”.

The father-of-two said he has never been contacted since by this person and did not know why the letters were sent. He also did not know Stewart Paul or anyone called “Woody”.

The court was told Ferguson is now a self-employed quantity surveyor and has carried out work with a firm owned by a former Chard director.

Paul, of Uddingston, Lanarkshire, denies attempted extortion and an alternative charge of breach of the peace.

His special defence of incrimination claims a person known as “Woody” was responsible.

This individual is said to have been at various times a member of the Special Air Services, a team leader of a security detachment based in Iraq and a member of the British Security Services.

Paul has also lodged another defence of alibi. The trial, before Lord Glennie, continues.

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