THE owner of a scrap metal yard says he’s been through a year of hell after police raided his business.
Eleven months ago, officers swooped on his firm’s Hilsea base.
Paul Bossuot, who owns Bossuot’s Metals Limited, was arrested and charged with handling stolen goods.
But when it finally made it to court he was cleared by the jury in just 15 minutes. Today he is telling of his anger at his treatment over the past year.
Mr Bossuot, who had his two yards, van and home searched by police in December last year as part of Operation Tornado, said: ‘It has been a nasty experience.
‘I’ve been through hell and back. They must have spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on this and they have not got a conviction. I’ve done nothing wrong.
‘We were on the television and in the news. That made me look really bad.
‘All I want to say is I am not a bad person. I have not done anything wrong.
‘Since then, I was in Asda and a customer came up to me and said he heard they shut the place done. I have had all sorts of hell in the last 11 months.
‘We make a living but what happens if I buy something stolen? It is like I am playing Russian roulette.’
Mr Bossuot says he has spent over £4,000 on solicitors’ fees fighting to clear his name.
During the raid on his Limberline Spur yard, more than a dozen police and officers from Portsmouth City Council and the Environment Agency swooped on the property.
His paperwork was taken away along with copper wiring and a silver anchor.
Police discovered the items had been stolen and later charged Mr Bossuot with handling stolen goods and failure to record the information of the selling required under the Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act 2013.
The latter charge was dropped before this month’s trial.
‘I don’t know whether I want to carry on with the business,’ he said.
‘We will always be here. I have been here for four years now. It is a business and it pays the bills.
‘It pays for everything. I might decide to leave but my son will take over if I do.’
Asked what sort of impact the situation has had on his scrap metal business, he said: ‘I don’t know how many customers I have lost from this. It’s really hard to get customers but it’s easy to lose them.’
Act intended to cut down on selling of stolen goods
The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act was created to try and crack down on the theft of metal.
Increases in thefts driven by the rise in metal prices could cost the national economy up to £777m a year, according to one estimate.
Operation Tornado is a national initiative aiming to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal.
The act came into effect on October 1 last year and brought in strict measures requiring traders to ask for photographic ID, and to sign up for a new licence with their local authority.