Terry Jeans had to cope with a father’s worst nightmare when his soldier son Simon died when attacked by thugs while serving as a peacekeeper in Bosnia in 1996.
It was a senseless death. The Royal Logistics Corps private was hit around the head by a gang armed with rocks and iron bars. He had just taken part in a charity run for children.
But Mr Jeans’s suffering has continued ever since as he has mounted a tireless campaign to see justice done. It has meant going back and forth to Croatia numerous times in his quest to witness those involved in his son’s death come before a court and be made to answer for their actions.
Trials have been repeatedly adjourned or delayed. But he has kept on going back, determined to get answers and see the men who attacked his son put behind bars.
It has taken its toll. He faced financial ruin and lost his house in Gosport after the cost of several wasted trips. With no help forthcoming from the British government, he relied on generous donations from readers of The News and armed forces charities to fund more visits to court.
Yet, finally, it seems that Mr Jeans could be nearing the end of his determined quest. While five men have already been convicted of assaulting Pte Jeans and were jailed back in 2000, a sixth – Dejan Skaro – walked free.
Now Skaro has been found guilty too and given an 11-month sentence suspended for five years – although the case is going back to court yet again as the Croatian state attorney is expected to appeal against what is regarded as leniency.
Mr Jeans certainly thinks Skaro should get a custodial sentence – and he won’t stop fighting until that happens.
He says: ‘They were hoping I would get fed up with the travelling and that I would give up and it would be swept under the carpet. But I said I would see it through to the end and it’s not over yet.’
It must have taken enormous determination to keep on pursuing justice on behalf of his son, to not give up over all those years. We wish Mr Jeans well for the future and feel that his son would be proud of his actions.