In the Media

Businessman had neighbour's tree felled in middle of night to improve hot-tub view

PUBLISHED November 20, 2012

Neil Davey, 51, allegedly 'paid or otherwise instructed' friend and tree surgeon Thomas McGuire to sneak into the garden at night and chop down the maritime pine.

The 40ft pine had stood for 55 years, was covered by a tree preservation order and stood on a hillside overlooking picturesque Poole Harbour, Dorset.

The householder said he was woken by the sound of the loud revving of a chainsaw followed by a crash that 'shook' his house as the tree was felled.

The local council carried out an investigation and discovered the tree would have blocked the sea views from Mr Davey's hot tub and sun terrace, the court heard.

Andrew Dearing, a planning enforcement officer at Poole council, said he followed a trail of flattened grass from the tree stump to the Davey's back garden nearby.

He said: "I saw the recently erected sun lounger and hot tub and saw where the tree had stood.

"The two sun loungers seemed relatively new.

"I thought 'here's a family who clearly enjoys sitting on their patio looking at the extensive views.

"I realised the owners had perfect views which were obstructed by the tree in question."

He told the jury that Davey's garden boasted views of Poole Harbour, the Isle of Purbeck, and Corfe Castle once the tree had been removed.

The court heard Mcguire, 34, had recently carried out work on the Davey's garden of their 550,000 pounds home in Inverclyde Road, Lower Parkstone, Poole.

Davey, who owns an auctioneers based in Poole, was on honeymoon with new wife Sheena in France at the time of the tree felling in June 2010.

But he is accused of arranging for the pine tree to be removed in his absence.

Stephen Bransgrove, 53, lived at the property in question and told the court how he was woken in the night by the revving.

He said: "It was the sort of noise if something had hit the house, it was a loud bang.

"It sounded like a two-stroke engine, it was a loud revving noise.

"It wasn't there for very long before all of a sudden that bang came and that was it."

He told the jury that he went to a window overlooking the garden and saw the huge tree on top of a wall and phoned the police.

Matthew Tomlinson, prosecuting for Poole council, said a tree preservation order had been place on the maritime pine since 1990.

He said: "This case concerns an incident which occurred in the early hours of Sunday, June 20, 2010, when a maritime pine was cut down from within the garden of 4 Heavytree Road.

"The tree was protected by a tree preservation order.

"As a result of the tree getting cut down the tree was destroyed.

"Mr Davey lives in a neighbouring property to where the tree was cut down.

"It is the prosecution's case that Mr Davey paid Mr Mcguire or otherwise instructed Mr Mcguire to cut down the tree."

He told the court the two men had claimed they had only known each other for five months, but in reality they had been friends for ten years.

He added: "Mr Davey said he was in France on his honeymoon at the time and that he had nothing to do with it. Mr McGuire stated that he was in Yeovil at the time.

"On the morning of June 20 the prosecution say that Mr McGuire lied about where he was.

"Shortly before 2am his mobile phone registered at a mast in Parkstone close to where the incident occurred."

McGuire, from Bournemouth, denies a charge of wilful destruction of a tree.

Davey denies causing or permitting the destruction of a tree.

The trial at Bournemouth Crown Court continues.