A Lansbury Worthington client has been unanimously acquitted in less than 10 minutes of jury deliberation of causing over £50,000 worth of criminal damage to protected trees and shrubs belonging Fulham Palace Gardens.
This case involved Mr R, a client of Lansbury Worthington, who owned an allotment adjoining the border of Fulham Palace Gardens. Fulham Palace is the historic home of the bishops of London and its gardens includes a large number of rare trees, many of which are protected because of their important historical value. One of these trees was on the border of Mr R’s allotment and had been allowed by the palace gardeners to grown to such a size that it had spread over the border and obscured the light for Mr R’s allotment. This meant that he was unable to grown his own plants and vegetables and this meant he was at risk of losing the allotment because of its lack of productivity. Mr R therefore set about trimming the branches that had over grown the border to allow more light to reach his allotment. The allegation against Mr R was that in trimming these branches he had caused serious damage to the tree which was calculated to be in excess of £50,000.
The case went for trial before Isleworth Crown Court, and because Mr R was funding his defence on a private basis it meant that his legal team, led by solicitor James Chaplin, were able to pursue every available avenue to ensure his defence was as strong as possible. This is something that is not always possible under the tighter restrictions of a legal aid funded case. Alongside site visits and photographic evidence, Mr R’s defence team also employed the expertise of a professional arboriculture witness who was able to convincingly show that the damage caused to the tree was many thousands of pounds less than that alleged by the prosecution.
At trial Mr R was represented by his barrister, William Paynter, and after three days of evidence the jury were sent out by the judge to consider their verdict. They returned within just ten minutes with a unanimous not guilty verdict.