Millionaire who felled 11 trees on his property to appear in court

Millionaire scrap metal dealer ‘brutally’ felled 11 protected trees up to 100 years old to make the garden of his five-bedroom mansion bigger and let more light into the house

  • David Matthews, 57, ignored Tree Preservation Orders made by Poole Council 
  • He admitted to felling the trees, some which were between 80-100 years old 
  • He will appear in court on May 24 and there’s no limit to the fine he could receive

David Matthews, 67, ignored Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) made by Poole Council on the mature trees on his land and were ‘brutally’ cut down with a chainsaw

A millionaire businessman who illegally chopped down 11 trees to make his back garden bigger back garden has been taken to court.

David Matthews, 67, ignored Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) made by Poole Council on the mature trees on his land and were ‘brutally’ cut down with a chainsaw.

The specimens, which included an oak, a beech and sweet chestnuts, were all close to Mr Matthews’ large five bedroom detached house in Dorset. 

Matthews, who runs a scrap metal dealer, is believed to have removed the trees over the course of the weekend to help create more outdoor space and improve the natural lighting of his home.

A member of the public reported the offences to the local council the Monday morning after the trees were felled.

Some of the trees were said to be between 80 and 100 years old.  

Matthews was investigated by Poole council, who later charged him with the willful destruction of protected trees.

He had previously breached a TPO in 2015 and was let off with a warning, the court heard.    

Matthews pleaded guilty to the charges when he appeared before magistrates in Poole. His sentencing was adjourned for reports.

Matthews, who runs a scrap metal dealers, pleaded guilty to the charges when he appeared before magistrates in Poole

Mr Matthews cut the trees over the court of a weekend on the land on his property. He was reported to the local council when they heard the chainsaw from his house

It is likely that he will also face a Proceeds of Crime hearing in the future to determine if he must pay back the amount of money his property has increased in value by because of the environmental destruction.

Andy Dearing, head of the enforcement team at Poole Borough Council, said: ‘He decided to feel the 11 trees over the weekend of February 10 and 11.

‘He did it with a chainsaw and really went for it.

Andy Dearing, head of the enforcement team at Poole Borough Council, said it was the ‘worst environmental crime of its kind we have seen in Poole’

Mr Matthews was said to have ‘brutally’ cut down the trees on his property

‘The trees were behind and to the side his property and within close proximity of it. Nine of them were mature, possibly between 80 to 100 years old.

‘They were of significant height and were visible above the house.

‘He claimed he did it to protect his family from falling branches, but two of the 11 trees were saplings.

‘We believe he did it to increase the outdoor amenity space. Although he has 4.5 acres of land, the outdoor space is actually quite limited.

‘The destruction of these 11 protected trees is the worst environmental crime of its kind we have seen in Poole.

The remains of the felled trees on property belonging to Mr Matthews

‘Over the years the council has shown a strong commitment to protecting Poole’s environment and we will continue to investigate matters brought to our attention and pursue prosecution where appropriate.’

Jane Newell, a local councillor, said: ‘There are strict rules protecting trees to provide wildlife habitats contributing to the ecological balance of our countryside.

‘These rules have clearly been breached.

‘It will take hundreds of years for new trees to grow and replace those brutally felled.

‘I am pleased council officers have acted swiftly and brought about a successful prosecution.’

Matthews will appear at Bournemouth Crown Court on May 24 for sentencing, where there is no limit to the fine he could receive.

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