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Your Borough Of Poole

Court Of Appeal Upholds Tree Conviction

A local man has lost his appeal against a conviction for causing and permitting the destruction of a protected tree in Poole.

Borough of Poole successfully prosecuted Neil Davey, a local auctioneer, of felling a mature 40ft maritime pine situated in his neighbour's property, at Bournemouth Crown Court on 23 November 2012. Neil Davey lost his subsequent appeal in the Court of Appeal in London on 11 June 2013.

He was appealing against a confiscation order of £50,000, a fine of £75,000 plus a £15 victim surcharge, £100 compensation to his neighbour and council costs of £14,500.

The jury at the original trial determined that Neil Davey had instructed a tree surgeon (Thomas McGuire) to cut down a tree in his neighbour's garden in Heavytree Road to increase his view over Poole Harbour and the Purbecks. Thomas McGuire cut down the tree during the early hours of the morning on Sunday 20 June 2010 while Neil Davey was on his honeymoon. This act showed no regard for his neighbour's safety and their property rights.

Michael Tomlinson, Counsel for Borough of Poole, said: "Lord Justice Elias said that this was a cynical act of going onto someone else's land and cutting down a tree. Later on the Court of Appeal stated that the fine was substantial, but the fact is that this was one of the most serious offences of its kind and the fine must include an element of deterrence."

Andy Dearing, Team Manager Planning Enforcement, Borough of Poole, said: "The council is pleased with the Court of Appeal's decision upholding Davey's conviction and fine for destroying a protected tree that was blocking harbour views from his hot tub. The fine, financial penalty and costs are a clear message to anyone contemplating such an act that the overall cost and reputational damage outweigh any gain, whether it is for a view or a planning advantage."

Councillor Mike White, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Inward Investment, Borough of Poole, said: "We are pleased with the severity of the fines and believe this is the highest fine for a single tree's destruction in the country. We are very grateful to Dorset Police for all their investigative and forensic assistance in securing this conviction. The council has a strong commitment to protect Poole's environment and we will continue to investigate and prosecute through the courts."

The court ordered Neil Davey to pay Borough of Poole the costs of the appeal amounting to £2,021.71.