"Deterrent" £75,000 fine upheld for man who felled neighbour's tree

One of the largest fines ever handed down for violation of a tree preservation order (TPO) has been imposed on a Dorset homeowner who felled a neighbour's maritime pine because it spoilt the view from his property.

Neil Davey of Poole was fined £75,000 after losing an appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice last month. Unusually, the case was brought under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, as Davey was estimated to have increased the value of his property by £50,000 from removing the tree - a sum which Davey was also obliged to pay under a confiscation order.

The basis of Davey's appeal was that the fine did not take into consideration the sum under the confiscation order - which the appeal judges rejected.

Davey was found to have engaged tree surgeon Thomas McGuire to cut down the tree in a neighbour's garden, to which he gained access through Davey's own garden at night.

The judge in the original case said Davey had shown "arrogance and contempt" for the safety and rights of his neighbours.

The appeal case judgement described it as "one of the most serious [offences] of its type", and added: "We consider that fines for this type of offence must include an element of deterrence."

McGuire meanwhile was fined the lesser sum of £2,500 due to his financial situation and ordered to pay £3,000 costs at the original trial. He did not appeal. 

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