A homeowner who cut down a protected tree he believed was damaging his property has been fined.

Vinod Kumar Pandhi pleaded guilty to illegally chopping down the hornbeam tree in the garden of his home in Tomswood Road, Chigwell in September last year.

The tree was protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) made in 2009 and no consent had been given for the work carried out.

Chelmsford Magistrates Court heard Pandhi told officers from Epping District Council during an interview under caution her was unaware the tree was subject to a TPO.

He explained he thought it was causing damage to his house, although none of the usual investigations had been carried out to verify this was the case.

Pandhi claimed he had asked workmen carrying out work in a neighbour’s garden to cut down the tree in his property.

However, he failed to provide details of the contactors to allow the council to carry out further investigations, with a view to also prosecuting those directly responsible for carrying out the work.

He pleaded guilty to the offence in front of magistrates on April 5, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £813, as well as a victim surcharge of £100.

The fine had been reduced by one third as a result of Pandhi having pleaded guilty at the first hearing and on account of his financial situation.