$5000 fine over tree removal

13-Aug-2013 A property developer has been convicted and fined $5000 for illegally cutting down a dozen trees on the site of his planned $20 million Toorak mansion.

Harry Stamoulis, 44, who bought the half-hectare St Georges Road property for a record $24 million in 2010, was yesterday also ordered to pay $8000 costs.

Stamoulis had pleaded guilty to the removal of 12 trees characterised as’’significant’’ without a permit. Prosecutor Mathew Sherwell told Melbourne Magistrates Court earlier this month an officer with the City of Stonnington investigated a complaint in December 2010 about the removal of trees.

Mr Sherwell said Stamoulis denied knowing the trees were deemed significant, and was unaware he needed a permit.

Defence barrister Robert Barry said the council had told Stamoulis there were no trees on the property listed as significant.

Mr Barry said a council arborist had identified the 12 trees but this had not been listed on the registry. He told magistrate Ann Collins that Stamoulis was embarrassed and took the matter seriously.

When the case resumed yesterday, NickPapas,SC,for Stamoulis,a prominent memberof Melbourne’sGreek community and a board member of Melbourne Victory soccer club, emphasised his client’s lackof prior convictions and that the arborist had not told his client that significant trees had been identified.

Mr Papas noted that of three similar previous cases prosecuted by Stonnington, two had not involved formal court hearings while the other defendant received a non-conviction bond.

He urged Ms Collins not to impose a conviction, an outcome that Mr Sherwell had not opposed, but she said while she took guidance from council’s sentencing position she was not bound by it.

Ms Collins noted that Stamoulis, who did not appear at either hearing — nor was he was legally obliged to — was a developer, the trees were significant and that people should be deterred from acting first and ‘dealing with it later’.



Steve Butcher
Published: August 23, 2012 - 10:46AM  Domain.com.au