A retired businessman who outraged neighbours by knocking down a graveyard wall during a home renovation will be £100,000 out of pocket after being ordered to tear down the extension.

Charles Ryan (73), a former boss of concrete company, cut an 11ft length of drystone wall, and extended his back wall to the gap with several gravestones.

Police are now investigating alleged damage and ‘desecration’ to the gravestones which Mr Ryan denies.

Retired businessman Charles Ryan, has been accused of knocking through a dry stone wall beside his house in Quebec, Co Durham without appropriate planning permission

Charles Ryan, a retired businessman, was accused of ripping through the dry stone wall next to his home in Quebec, Co Durham, without proper planning permission

The former concrete firm boss has been ordered to knock down an extension which involved the removal of an 11-foot stretch of dry stone wall along the perimeter of a cemetery

A former boss at a concrete firm was given the order to remove an eleven-foot section of dry stone wall that runs around the perimeter of a cemetery.

Several locals objected to the development at Mr Ryan’s £250,000 home after the former businessman applied for retrospective planning permission

Mr Ryan has been ordered to demolish the extension and reinstate the dry stone wall by summer 2022 or face further action

Ryan must demolish the extension, and then reinstall dry stone walls by summer 2022. Ryan will face further actions

But the building work has caused an unholy row in the village of Quebec, Co. Durham, where his £250,000 period house backs onto the historic St John the Baptist Church cemetery.

Several locals complained to the council over Mr Ryan’s extension, for which he only applied for planning permission retrospectively.

Instead, Durham County Council have ordered him to knock down his garage conversion and rebuild the cemetery wall by next Summer, all of which has been estimated to cost around £100,000.

Locals also complained to police of alleged criminal damage to graves during Mr Ryan’s construction work and the claims are being probed.

Ryan converted and expanded his garage in order to increase the living area for himself and his wife. However, he did not seek approval to plan.

It is alleged that the building work disturbed some graves which were close to the boundary

Some graves were allegedly disturbed by the construction work, as they are located near the boundary.

Among those who complained to the council was John Nicholson from nearby Willington, who claimed his grandparents’ gravestone was damaged in the work.

He wrote: ‘I am writing to register my objection to the planning application of Mr Ryan who has already caused damage to the graveyard wall and desecrated many graves.

‘One of which graves that has been damaged, is what we hoped was the final resting place of both my grandparents who had been laid to rest together in a grave close to the graveyard wall.

‘Their headstone now lies face down in the ground following the building work that was carried out. It is hard to believe that anyone would be so disrespectful that they would demolish a graveyard wall and desecrate graves.’

A neighbour who didn’t want to be named, told Mail Online: ‘He’s just completely ignored planning rules and acted with complete disrespect to everyone else in the village. He’s upset a lot of people but now he’s lost in court. He’s got to take it all down and I gather he won’t get any change from £100,000.’

Geoff Paul, Durham County Council’s interim head of housing and development, said: ‘The retrospective planning application was refused on the grounds that the development is not sympathetic to the character and appearance of the area and has resulted in the loss of the historic fabric of the stone boundary wall, damaging its traditional character.

‘The proposal fails to conserve or enhance the significance and setting of the adjacent former church, which is a heritage asset. An enforcement notice was issued requiring the demolition of the extension and reconstruction within six months.

‘The applicant does have a right of appeal against the refusal of the application and the enforcement notice.’

A spokesperson for Durham Constabulary said: ‘Police received a report of damage to a wall and graves at the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church on Front Street in Quebec. The report was made in September this year and the investigation is ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the damage.’

MailOnline approached Ryan and he was not willing to apologize. Ryan furiously denied that he had damaged any graves. He also claimed the wall a portion he took was already partially destroyed.

Durham Constabulary said they are investigating allegations that several gravestones may have been damaged, although Mr Ryan said the council knocked over the markers themselves because they had become dangerous

Durham Constabulary confirmed that they are currently investigating claims of several gravestones being damaged. Mr Ryan stated however, that the council had taken the marker over as they became dangerous. 

He said: ‘All of this wall was built 35 years ago by myself and the extension is only a couple of feet wide. The extension was added because my wife, who is in her 70s and me, were concerned about our safety and health.

‘We did have a staircase going around the side of the house with slippery metal steps which was becoming unsafe. You couldn’t see the wall before because of overgrown trees and vines. Not me, but the council knocked over the graves.

‘They said in a newsletter they had to knock some of them down because they were becoming unsafe.’

He added: ‘People haven’t read that newsletter and that is what is frustrating.

‘I have the option to appeal because the council didn’t know the wall was already collapsed.

‘This is escalated by people in the village online. They call them trolls.’

The extension was in place for 2 years, but he said it has created a lot of controversy because changes only became visible with the falling of trees.

‘All of these gravestones have been down at least 20 years,’ he claimed. ‘People only saw them down when the area was cleaned recently.

‘I get lots of people who come and say it’s a disgrace what they’re doing and they’re supporting us. People saw that the wall was gone after the trees were cut down by the council.

‘We’ve lived here 40 years and I’ve rebuilt this wall enough times.

‘I’m not angry at the reactions, I’m just disappointed because some people making the claims don’t even live close.

‘I’ve sent the council an email asking if they want the wall rebuilt as it was because it was collapsed, it was a pile of rubbish.’