An ‘arrogant’ homeowner who killed a protected tree because it threatened to scupper a £100,000 property deal faces a huge fine after he lied about its demise.

Robert Page (71) was informed by a judge that the 65-foot tall mature Monterey pine had been’murded’ and that he lied when asked by planning officers how the poison had been spread.

A jury heard that Page wanted rid of the 65-year-old specimen from the front garden of his £900,000 home near Poole Harbour, Dorset, as it stood in the way of a lucrative property deal.

A retired chartered accountant agreed to let his detached house go to a developer, who would then build luxury apartments in a new block.

Robert Page, 71, was described as 'arrogant' by a judge after he was found guilty of 'murdering' a 65-foot-tall mature Monterey pine at his Poole Harbour, Dorset home before 'lying through his teeth' over its demise. Pictured: Page leaving Salisbury Law Courts

Robert Page (71) was called ‘arrogant” by a judge following his conviction of murdering a mature Monterey Pine, 65 feet tall, at his Poole Harbour Dorset residence. He then lied through his teeth over the tree’s demise. Page departing Salisbury Law Courts

A court heard the pensioner had stood to make £100,000 from the sale.

Court was told by the defendant that the shadow cast by the tree over his house on South facing was also a reason for him wanting it removed.

However, his plan was thwarted when planning permission was denied. As one reason for the refusal, it was noted that the evergreen’s public amenity value, which was protected by a Tree Preservation Order was also cited.

Page filed a request to legalize the removal of this tree, saying that it was dangerous. However, Page was not granted.

A jury heard that Page wanted rid of the 65-year-old specimen from the front garden of his £900,000 home near Poole Harbour, Dorset, as it stood in the way of a lucrative property deal

A jury heard that Page wanted rid of the 65-year-old specimen from the front garden of his £900,000 home near Poole Harbour, Dorset, as it stood in the way of a lucrative property deal

Page's grand plan fell through when planning permission was refused. But soon after the decision, the tree began to wither and die. Tree experts found a deadly herbicide had been injected into drill holes and cement poured around its base to choke it of oxygen.

Page’s plan collapsed when Planning Permission was denied. However, soon after Page’s decision was made the tree began to wither. Experts discovered that a fatal herbicide was injected through drill holes, and that cement had been placed around the tree’s base in order to choke off oxygen.

The luscious pine began to die soon afterward, despite having decades of natural life.

Local council tree experts inspected the dead tree and found it to be sabotaged. Drill holes were drilled for the herbicide, and cement was placed around the base of it to stop oxygen flow.

After a bicycle ride, Page and his wife went home to meet his financial advisor. He was heard telling his wife “Don’t tell anyone anything” after seeing an expert inspect his property.

A pensioner denied the charge that he broke a TPO order to remove the tree. Instead, he claimed that another person must have entered his land and killed it.

He was convicted after a four-day trial at Salisbury Crown Court.

Page returned home from a bike ride with his financial advisor wife and was overheard to tell her 'don't tell them anything' upon seeing the expert on his property. Pictured: The stump left behind in the garden of the house in Poole, Dorset, after the decades-old tree was felled

Page, a cyclist with his wife was returning home after a ride on a bicycle. After seeing his expert in his backyard, Page told his wife, his financial advisor wife: “Don’t tell them anything.” Pictured: After decades of tree felling, the stump remains in Poole, Dorset’s backyard.

Judge Robert Pawson sent the case back to the courtroom for sentence, but not before going into detail with the defendant.

He explained that the tree was not a problem for the planners and that you had hoped to make a deal with them again.

“You stood there, and you lied through the teeth.” You display a certain arrogance.

Maximum sentence for this crime is an unspecified fine. Page may also be subject to high-priced court costs.

Judge Pawson stated that you have the right of a fair trial, but that it can be expensive. That money will end up at your door.

The case was also described by him as the “murder trial for a tree”.

Court heard that Page had brought his house to Poole in 17 years, and the pine tree was subject to a TPO.

Page faces an unlimited fine for breaching a TPO order with intent to destroy the tree. Pictured: Salisbury Law Courts, where Mr Page is currently standing trial

Page is facing an unspecified fine for breaking a TPO with the intent to damage the tree. Pictured: Salisbury Law Courts where Page is currently on trial

Nick Cotter was the prosecution and told the jury in the course of the trial that both applications for the removal of the tree were filed with Poole Borough Councils in 2015 and 2016. The tree had been dead by 2016.

Cotter stated that the expert evidence was incontrovertible. It was evident that the tree had been damaged to death in an advanced manner.

I don’t believe Mr Page was holding a hatchet. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t evidence to support it.

“When you begin to put together the evidence, it is like dead wood on Mr Page’s shoulders. It weighs him down.

We have a history of this tree being indelibly connected to Mr Page.

‘We have two applications in 2015 to renovate the property and sell it to make £100,000 profit – a motivation to get rid of the tree.

It was cited as one reason why the applications failed. From 2015, he had his attention on the tree.

“We knew it was in his head in 2016 and have the application for it to be taken down.

“His story is one of someone coming to his aid when no one was there and cutting wood. On one occasion, he managed to remove some wood and then returned to cut more. The damage was then repaired by the tree-fiddler.

They did it secretly for several months without anyone knowing.

“All the evidence is in favor of Mr Page. His actions are very sad for this tree.

Page, father-of-2, will be sentenced in December