Thu, 01 Aug 2013
A multi-millionaire businessman has been fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £457,000 in costs for allowing an ancient part of protected woodland to be destroyed.
Philip Day pleaded guilty to two offences of carrying out unauthorised works on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (“SSSI”) in 2010.
Following substantial legal argument at an earlier hearing in May 2013, HHJ Hughes QC ruled that the Prosecution was required to prove that the Defendant caused the operations, but that otherwise the offences were ones of strict liability. Mr Day later pleaded guilty.
At a hearing in July the Judge visited the site of the works, heard evidence from a number of Mr Day’s employees, and took into account written evidence from local residents. He rejected the Defence’s submission that that the works were the fault of the employees alone, and held that Mr Day was “grossly negligent” in preparing the estate for shooting. The Judge agreed with Prosecution Counsel’s submissions that the Defendant “bears a very considerable degree of responsibility” for the works. The case has resulted in the largest ever fine in such a case. Leave to appeal has been lodged.
Rex Tedd QC, prosecuting, stressed that it was not alleged that the damage had been done deliberately to the protected site in the woodland “The only sentence that can be imposed is one of a fine,”.