A MILLIONAIRE businessman who chopped down trees outside his £1.4million home because they blocked light is forced to pay £170,000.
David Matthews, 67, hacked the 100-year-old trees down with a chainsaw to increase the size of his back garden and the amount of light it received.
This image shows the property after the trees were felled, circled[/caption]
He had “full knowledge” the 11 trees – which included a mature oak, a beech and sweet chestnuts – were protected by a preservation order.
However, a court heard he “deliberately” cut them down to illegally add an estimated £137,500 to the value of his five-bedroom home in Wimborne, Dorset.
Now Matthews has been left red-faced after a judge ordered him to pay the sum – plus an extra £32,000 in fines and court costs.
The judge argued he was trying to add a “considerable advantage” to his property which he had built after buying the five-acre plot.
Southampton Crown Court heard the former director of a £2million scrap metal business chopped down the trees at his home – called ‘Flambards’ – in February last year.
On the evidence before me I found there to be clear evidence of substantial improvement as a result of the removal of the trees.
Judge Jane Rowley
Matthews, former director of Reliance Scrap Metal Merchants Ltd, now run by his wife Rosalind, admitted wilful destruction of protected trees.
Matthews claimed he chopped down the 11 trees over fears falling branches would hurt his grandchildren.
However, Judge Jane Rowley said there was “overwhelming evidence” the house’s value had increased by their removal.
She said: “On the evidence before me I found there to be clear evidence of substantial improvement as a result of the removal of the trees.
“Significant improvements were acknowledged by all experts which would have decidedly led to an increase in the value of the property which can be regarded as being to the benefit of Matthews.
“I find it wholly inconceivable the value would have remained unchanged after these improvements had been made.
She added: “You were given a clear warning in the past – your actions to cut the trees were criminal.”
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Tom Horder, prosecuting, said: “This was a deliberate act carried out with full knowledge of the preservation order.”
Kevin Hill, defending, said: “Matthews said in his interview that he knew it was wrong to cut down the trees but he’d been impatient, he was an impatient man.
“He cut down the trees because he was worried about branches falling on an area where the grandchildren regularly play.”
Dad-of-two Matthews was ordered to pay £137,500 to cover the proceeds of crime, a £12,000 fine for cutting down the trees, £20,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £170 – totalling £169,670.
He cut down 11 trees outside his home in Dorset[/caption]
A judge said he was trying to add a “considerable advantage” to his property, pictured[/caption]
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