Former Bognor Regis ‘most-wanted’ businessman comes clean

Tony Plunkett
Tony Plunkett

A former business owner who featured on Crimewatch wants to come clean as he considers a return to Bognor Regis.

Tony Plunkett, pictured below, was chosen as one of the BBC prime-time programme’s most wanted last year when he was on the run from the police.

But he said his criminal days were behind him as he looked to come back to the town where he forged a successful business career in the past decade.

Mr Plunkett ran two satellite warranty companies between 2004 and 2008 as well as setting up a care home with partners.

He said: “It was shameful appearing on Crimewatch. But I want to put everything like that behind me and start again.

“I had the best times of my life in Bognor. I regard the town as my home and it would be nice to come back and rebuild my life here.

“This is the place I want to be and I want people to know what happened to me and why. I don’t want a lot of rumours going on behind my back.”

Mr Plunkett, 43, blamed his problems on being prescribed the maximum dose of a powerful drug for obsessive compulsive disorder and depression for six years.

He claimed the drug removed the social boundaries of his life with shattering results.

“It’s not until you come off the drug that you gain a clarity about what you have done,” he said.

Mr Plunkett is staying with his brother in West Yorkshire but looking to come to Bognor with hopes of getting involved with events management.

Mr Plunkett first moved to Bognor from his native Yorkshire in 1992. He worked in Butlin’s and various pubs before he briefly moved away.

He returned in 2000 to settle down. He quickly became the manager of a care home for adults with learning difficulties and mental health problems.

He worked there for three years but, in the year he started, he began to be prescribed the drug.

He set up and became the co-owner of a satellite warranty company in 2004 and sold it a year later.

He was involved with a care home for adults with learning difficulties in 2003, opened it in 2005 and ran it for two years when he left it as a going concern.

By then, he had started and become the director and co-owner of another satellite warranty company.

In all, he said he had employed 100-plus people in his businesses.

But the maximum dosage of the drug he had taken since 2002 combined with his mother’s death in 2008 threw his life off balance.

He said: “Between 2003-08, I had set up and left or lost a couple of million pound businesses.

“My mother passed away in 2008. I moved away from Bognor with my career and reputation in tatters. It took a further 12-18 months of downward spiral which culminated in 2009 with my arrest for fraud committed in Yorkshire.

“I was bailed and absconded for six months. In June 2010, I was on Crimewatch as its sixth most wanted person in Britain.

“My brother saw it and told me. It was what I needed to hand myself in.

“That resulted in a six-month prison sentence. I served a few weeks, mostly in Doncaster jail. It was a case of just getting through that time.”

By the time he handed himself in, he had been clean of the drug for six months.

“I was able to take stock of what had gone before and what toll the drug had taken,” he said.

He is planning to begin legal action in relation to his claims that his behaviour was changed by the drug.