A POOLE auctioneer is facing the biggest fine of its kind ever seen after getting a family friend to cut down a protected tree in the middle of the night.
An uninterrupted view of Purbeck, Corfe Castle and Poole Harbour could be seen from Neil Davey's sun loungers after he arranged for tree surgeon Thomas McGuire to chop it down.
Davey, 51, of Inverclyde Road, Poole, had the tree felled while he was on honeymoon in Paris, with prosecutor Michael Tomlinson asking him during the trial if it was a wedding present for his wife.
He was fined £75,000 at Bournemouth Crown Court yesterday, with an additional £50,000 to make sure he doesn't ever profit from the increased value of his property.
Davey had denied causing or permitting the destruction of a tree, while McGuire denied wilful destruction of a tree.
But both were found guilty by a jury after a five-day hearing.
McGuire, 34, of Richmond Park Road, Bournemouth, was fined £5,500 for cutting down the pine.
Andy Dearing, enforcement officer for Poole council, said afterwards: “We believe it is the biggest fine in the country and it was a very robust sentence.
“We are clearly very satisfied and very grateful for the assistance of the police for their support and technical assistance in bringing Davey and McGuire before the courts.
“This was a protracted and very detailed investigation “The council hopes these convictions will bring to an end to acts of tree destruction and damage by a small minority to enhance their harbour views and consequently the value of their property by many thousands of pounds.”
Mr Dearing, a former Metropolitan Police officer, had told the court he followed a trail from the felled tree to Davey's garden and saw how clearing the tree had opened up a view of Poole Harbour from his hot tub and sun loungers.
“I'm completely satisfied that this was done to enhance the views as the prosecution said all along,” he said.
“I suspect it was a wedding present to Davey from McGuire, as the judge intimated.”
Mr Dearing said residents were outraged when they saw the felled tree in the Daily Echo after it was chopped down in June 2010.
He said: “People said it was outrageous after seeing it in the Echo and they wanted to see a prosecution but we wouldn't have done it without the police.”