A HOMEOWNER who damaged a 90-year-old tree so badly it had to be chopped down has been fined £60,000.
Stephen Lawrence ripped off bark and drilled holes into the trunk of a mature cedar near his grade II listed property in Chelmsford, Essex, UK.
He applied to have the tree uprooted twice but both applications were rejected by the city council.
Despite warnings he continued to hack at the tree until it became so badly damaged the council had no choice but to fell it.
Chelmsford City Council took Lawrence to court where he pleaded guilty to wilful damage to a protected tree.
He was initially fined £90,000 but the total was reduced to £60,000 thanks to his early guilty plea.
He was also ordered to pay a further £1,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £32.
Councillor Mike Mackrory said afterwards: This is a significant fine which reflects the age and the value of the tree to people in the local neighborhood who enjoyed seeing it every day, to the flora and fauna who lived in it, and to the wider environment as trees like this are hugely important in absorbing carbon.
The court heard that Lawrence flouted the law by continuing to intentionally damage the tree despite receiving visits and written letters from the council.
In May, despite a request asking Lawrence to stop, officers found he had completely stripped the lower trunk of bark.
The council said it was bleeding sap, holes had been drilled into the trunk and it was totally de-barked around the whole circumference.
Cllr Mackrory added: The sad thing is that at the point when the damage was first discovered, although the damage was extensive, the tree could still have survived.
It was the further attacks on it, after Mr Lawrence had been ordered to cease damaging it in the spring, which completely finished it off and meant that there was now no chance that this beautiful old tree could live.
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