Bad luck haunts arson victim

JIM Baker normally doesn't believe in stress, but five weeks of watching his trucking business disappear, truck-by-truck, may be changing that.

Five weeks ago arsonists destroyed three of his trucks in an overnight attack on his Ballina business, Darragh's Holiday Coast Removals. Two weeks ago, driver Kevin Heeb rolled a truck full of furniture being transported from Sydney to Lismore, writing off the vehicle.

On Monday last week, manager Dave Cupitt, who was in charge when the arson occurred, was admitted to intensive care, seriously ill with emphysema.

By last Thursday, Mr Baker was driving his only remaining truck himself and considering walking away from the business.

"I don't show it on the outside, but this is killing me," he said.

Mr Baker confirmed rumours that he is thinking of giving the business away.

"I am sitting on it at the moment," he said.

"I don't believe in stress. It is usually a case of mind-overmatter. But I can't pretend it is not getting to me."

The Newcastle-based owner visited the business for the first time on Thursday since the attack on September 18.

None of the burnt trucks are likely to be replaced any time soon because of lengthy insurance investigations.

"They say Kevin may have had a micro-sleep when he rolled the truck," said Mr Baker.

Mr Baker was driving home from a Dubbo golfing holiday last month when he got the call about the arson attack.

"Dave told me there was a fire," said the New Zealandborn truckie.

"I thought he meant in the building at first.

"Then Dave said 'It's the trucks'. I was speechless."

But Mr Baker said he was trying to remain positive.

"If you start worrying you can worry yourself to death. The arson was not an accident. I have my ideas who did it, but I can't talk about it."

Due to the delicacy of the investigations, police are un- able to reveal details.



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