My neighbour took me to court for chopping down a £56k tree – I just wanted to let more sun onto my flowerbeds | The Sun

My neighbour took me to court for chopping down a £56k tree – I just wanted to let more sun onto my flowerbeds | The Sun

A HOMEOWNER was stunned when his neighbour took him to court for chopping down a tree said to be worth £56,000.

Retired doctor Niall Martin, of Solihull, West Mids, was accused of cutting a 40ft tall Holly to allow more sunlight onto his flower beds.

But his next-door David Sandom was left fuming, claiming the tree was on his side of the garden and that he had "point blank" refused for it to be removed.

He claimed the felling had caused him a potential loss of £56,084.

After spotting workmen taking the tree down, Mr Sandom took out a private prosecution and the case ended up in Birmingham Magistrates' Court.

Dr Martin, who welcomes people into his garden for charity every year as part of the road's "in Bloom" event, said he was "shocked" to receive a court summons over the axed tree.

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He denied charges of criminal damage over the felling and theft of wood, and was acquitted as magistrates could not determine who owned the Holly.

The court heard how Mr Sandom gave permission for a Beech tree to be cut down as it was leaning into his neighbour's garden, but not the Holly.

He said: "I said I'm not going to give permission to cut down a mature tree.

"He said he didn't need permission to cut it down and seemed to infer it was some sort of pest. It didn't make any sort of sense to me."

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But Dr Martin, 72, told the court he thought the tree was on his side because it "appeared so when I looked down the boundary".

He said got permission from Solihull Council to remove other trees in his garden, but admitted he was 'mistaken' not to include the Holly because he thought it was just part of the hedge and he did not require approval.

Dr Martin said he tried to resolve the dispute after the tree was chopped down, but to his "amazement" he received a court summons.

A chartered surveyor for Mr Sandom argued the tree was more on his side of the garden but accepted it was not "wholly" on it.

The counterpart for the defence concluded the Holly was "on the boundary".

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Ben Bennett, an arboriculturalist, told the court that while the tree had been reduced it was "responding well and showing good vigour" adding it certainly had not been destroyed.

He also concluded that the wood taken away had "no commercial value whatsoever".

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