Stumped! Mystery over identity of 'tree killer' who targeted 35ft-tall Scots pine on millionaire's row as council fails to snare poisoner… despite five-month probe

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A council has admitted it is stumped over the identity of a mystery tree killer who targeted a 35ft-tall Scots pine on millionaire’s row in Dorset. 

Tree experts from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council launched a criminal investigation in April in a bid to find the poisoner that attack the gigantic tree located on a private plot of land next to Poole Harbour.

The tree was later found to have had holes drilled into its trunk which were then filled with an unknown chemical. 

It had been subjected to a Tree Preservation Order and has since turned completely brown and died. A protected oak tree next to it had also been illegally pruned the council said. 

Over the past ten years there has been a spate of tree attacks in the Poole Harbour area. The most high-profile case was that of a businessman who was fined £75,000 in 2012 for arranging to have a 50ft pine tree felled.

A council has admitted it is stumped over the identity of a mystery tree killer who targeted a 35ft-tall Scots pine on millionaire's row in Dorset (35ft-tall Scots pine circled in green, with the owner's land highlighted in red)

A council has admitted it is stumped over the identity of a mystery tree killer who targeted a 35ft-tall Scots pine on millionaire’s row in Dorset (35ft-tall Scots pine circled in green, with the owner’s land highlighted in red)

David McEvoy, a retired civil servant who owns the parcel of land that was the scene of the latest attack, with the damaged area of the tree circled in red

David McEvoy, a retired civil servant who owns the parcel of land that was the scene of the latest attack, with the damaged area of the tree circled in red

As part of their investigation council officials spoke to numerous residents on exclusive Pearce Avenue, which backs on to Poole Harbour, where properties have an average value of £1.7million. 

David McEvoy, a retired civil servant who owns the parcel of land that was the scene of the latest attack, suspected the motive for it was to enhance the perpetrator’s sea views.

Mr McEvoy, who is in his 70s, said he is ‘astonished’ that the council had failed to find a suspect and accused it of not taking his complaint seriously. He said he will be speaking to his solicitor with a view of bringing legal action.

He said: ‘I am horrified and astonished that despite obvious evidence that this tree was tampered with, the council has been unable to identify a suspect.

‘From the commencement of the investigation it is now five months to the BCP Council “conclusion” of insufficient evidence, which I find unacceptable, what evidence do they have? Have they carried out questioning under caution, if not why not?

‘This conclusion sends out the message that anyone who kills a protected tree for whatever motive is going to get away with it as the council is failing to investigate to the fullest extent.’

Mr McEvoy added: ‘My tree is dead. It is clear that the tree has had holes drilled into it which have then been filled with poison. I cannot abide the fact that tree poisoning appears to have taken place on my land.’

John Challinor, a Conservative councillor for Canford Cliffs, said: ‘This issue is something that angers many people and it is frustrating to know that people can effectively get away with this sort of thing without any penalty.

‘We would all agree that somebody has done it for their benefit but you can’t prove it.’

David McEvoy, a retired civil servant who owns the parcel of land that was the scene of the latest attack, suspected the motive for it was to enhance the perpetrator's sea views

David McEvoy, a retired civil servant who owns the parcel of land that was the scene of the latest attack, suspected the motive for it was to enhance the perpetrator’s sea views

Mr McEvoy's house in red with the 35ft-tall Scots pine circled behind it

Mr McEvoy’s house in red with the 35ft-tall Scots pine circled behind it

Local resident Tony Lee said: ‘I get very upset when we hear these things happening. People get away with it and they don’t seem to be punished.’

In her letter to Mr McEvoy explaining the outcome of the investigation, BCP planning enforcement officer Pip Williams said: ‘This investigation has now been concluded and unfortunately, there is insufficient evidence to bring about proceedings against any person or persons on this occasion.’

A spokesperson for BCP Council confirmed that the Scots pine had been poisoned and that a protected oak tree next to it had also been illegaly pruned. While both acts are criminal offences it has been impossible to identify the offender, it said. 

Sam Fox, BCP Council’s director of planning and destination said: ‘Senior members of our enforcement and arboriculture and landscape teams undertook an extensive investigation and found one pine tree was dying, and small branches had been removed from the canopy of an oak tree.

‘Samples were taken from site, and house to house calls made to local neighbouring residents.

‘Following analysis of the samples, the pine tree was confirmed to have been poisoned. Unfortunately, despite this there was insufficient evidence to bring about proceedings against any person or persons.

‘The poisoning of the Scots pine and lopping of the oak tree are criminal acts. The council is disappointed that following this lengthy investigation it cannot progress this case further.’




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