€50k for man whose house became 'unsellable' after neighbour cut down 50-year-old trees
A 78-year-old company manager, who claimed his house has become unsellable since his next-door neighbour cut down a row of 50-year-old trees, has been awarded almost €50,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.
Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, awarding Dermot McArdle compensation against neighbour Colin Kilgannon, said Kilgannon should have sought a court order against McArdle permitting removal of the 50-feet high trees if he thought they had been causing structural damage to his house.
Judge Groarke said that sadly, Mr Kilgannon, of Sans Souci, Kilgobbin Road, Stepaside, Dublin, decided to take the law into his own hands and foolishly trespassed on McArdle’s property, Pine Trees, Kilgobbin Road, Stepaside, and cut down the trees himself when his neighbour was away.
The judge said Kilgannon could not have felled the trees at a worse time as Mr McArdle had been trying to sell his house. The court was satisfied Mr Kilgannon’s thoughtless and unjustified behaviour had caused the loss of a sale at the time as there had been a bid in place and considerable interest was being shown in the Pine Trees property.
The judge ruled last month that Kilgannon “most regrettably” failed to follow the advice of his legal team to discuss with Mr McArdle where the boundary between their properties lay. The issue of damages had been adjourned until today.
McArdle, who sued Kilgannon and his wife Jelen, had told the court that in September last he had been trying to sell his property and had been shocked to find that Kilgannon had carried out the tree felling.
The judge said he was satisfied a fence had been erected in the 1960’s by a previous owner of Sans Souci, with Mr McArdle’s agreement, after they had determined, relying on maps, where the boundary lay. McArdle had then planted the trees in 1968 on his side of the property. The Kilgannons had bought Sans Souci in December 2014.
Judge Groarke said he did not believe that Mr McArdle had agreed to the removal of the trees. He also did not believe Mr McArdle had agreed to a fence being replaced by Mr Kilgannon, encroaching on the Pines Trees property for more than a metre. If it were so, “there would have been hell to pay.”
He was satisfied Kilgannon, who cut down seven trees and strongly trimmed back four others, had trespassed on Mr McArdle’s property to do so. He awarded €48,700 damages and costs.
McArdle had told his barrister Andrew Walker that at the time he and his wife, Margo, had just paid a deposit on an apartment on Merrion Road, Dublin, unaware of Kilgannon's plans. They had been relying on the sale of The Pine Trees to cover the purchase of the apartment.
He said that before the incident his property had been valued at nearly €900,000, but a last purchase offer had shown the property valuation had been reduced to €810,000, a reduction in value of €90,000.
Judge Groarke said Mr Kilgannon’s foolish action would now cost him a considerable amount of money as he was satisfied the McArdles had suffered distress in circumstances where they had been engaged in buying the Merrion Road apartment in anticipation of a quick sale of the Pine Trees.
The judge said the McArdles had needed to secure funding for the apartment and this had its extra costs.
They would now need to remedy the damage to Pine Trees in order to sell it.