North Yorkshire man fined for illegally demolishing cottage
A man who damaged his neighbour's property after he demolished a cottage without planning permission has been fined £17,500.
David Eckersall had permission to extend his Grade II listed home in Thornton-in-Craven but pulled it down while his elderly neighbours were on holiday.
Geoff and Joan Peel returned home in April to find extensive damage to their home of more than 30 years.
The couple were forced to move out.
The roof of their dining room had been removed and the outside wall of their bathroom replaced by a plasterboard sheet.
In a hearing at Bradford Crown Court, Eckersall admitted to demolishing the 18th Century cottage and was ordered to pay the fine and £3,000 in legal costs.
Alex Menary, defending Eckersall, said his client took the decision to knock it down after making a legitimate hole in a wall to pin the new extension to the existing cottage and it became clear there were significant structural problems which were making the whole building unsafe.
Judge Colin Burn said it was not possible to prove or disprove Eckersall's claim that he only knocked down the building when it was clear there were severe structural failures emerging from the work he was doing.
He said the defendant then took the "catastrophic decision to knock down the whole building".
"You took the decision off your own bat to take down a Grade II listed building," he added.
The judge decided not to compensate Mr and Mrs Peel after hearing about ongoing litigation. He said he believed any financial award he made could affect the total they are awarded by other authorities or courts.