WHO BURNT RON?S BOAT?
By ZOE SATHERLEY
THERE was a loud bang and a bonfire of sorts on the night of Ron Hardy's 69th birthday ? but it was hardly fireworks going off.
In the street outside his Goonellabah home, his pride and joy, Hunten, a 4.5-metre half-cabin cruiser, was going up in flames. Police are investigating whether the fibreglass boat was deliberately lit on late Monday night.
Police have asked for any witnesses to come forward.
The Bruxner Crescent resident said he had no enemies and was unable to understand the motive behind the suspected attack.
Only eggs had been thrown at the boat in the past.
"My sons and I were always going hunting for fish but those days are over," the despondent deep sea fishing enthusiast lamented.
"It would cost $30,000 to replace the boat and all the gear and there is no way we will ever have that kind of spare cash.
"We lost all seven rods and reels, the satellite navigation system, depth sounder, 70hp outboard and two fuel tanks."
While Ron and his wife Noeline slept off his Monday night birthday party, it appears someone drove past the boat and deliberately set it alight.
A neighbour passing by around 11pm stopped and honked her horn loudly to alert the couple, who promptly called 000.
Police were there within minutes.
The heat was so intense that when Ron and Noeline opened the front door of their house to investigate, they had to close it again.
The flames com- pletely destroyed the boat.
The family's Commodore station wagon, parked adjacent to the boat, had its rear end melted and the front hedge and nearby trees were torched.
The 20-year-old boat was insured for much less than it would cost to replace, said Ron.
"Going out fishing has been a way of life for years," he said.
"This is just heartbreaking but you have to look on the bright side.
"My wife bought me a monster fishing esky for my birthday.
"I might just go and have a long cool bath in it."