A trial to determine whether a Ventnor businessman is guilty of breaching an Isle of Wight Council enforcement notice is nearing its end as the jury deliberates ahead of giving their verdict.

UPDATE: Ventnor businessman found GUILTY of Merrie Gardens planning breach

Louis William Tudor Smith, of Marlborough Road, has been attending his Isle of Wight Crown Court trial since last Monday (November 20).

He denies six counts of breaching an Isle of Wight Council planning enforcement notice issued in April 2019 and has been representing himself, as well as Merrie Gardens Ltd and Westover Park Estate Ltd – for which he is a director.

Both businesses own parcels of land within the enforcement area, located behind Premier Inn and KFC off Newport Road in Lake.

Isle of Wight County Press: The site at Merrie Gardens in LakeThe site at Merrie Gardens in Lake (Image: Contributions)

It is alleged between October 31, 2020, and April 27, 2021, Mr Smith failed to comply with the council’s enforcement notice for his land at Merrie Gardens, which would have seen waste removed and land regraded and re-seeded.

For the local authority, Duncan Milne told the court that planning officer Paula Debenham visited the site in February 2019, finding development work requiring planning permission had been carried out and waste materials being stored on site.

Mr Milne told members of the jury the land was effectively being used as a “dumping site,” and during a further inspection in May 2019, the council found a change in the levels of the land and evidence of additional materials being brought in.

This was described as evidence of engineering work requiring planning permission, which had not been obtained, Mr Milne said, and an enforcement notice came into effect on May 15, 2019 - its purpose being to remedy the alleged breach.

The notice was subsequently put on hold when Mr Smith exercised his right to appeal the decision, which was dismissed in September 2020.

Mr Smith said lots of people fly tipped on the site during Covid, and showed the jury photographic evidence of a truck trespassing on his land. He had no photographic evidence of anyone dumping material.

Mr Smith told the court he spent £100,000 clearing the site, slamming ISG PLC for their ‘sloping shoulder approach’ and ‘illegal dumping’ on his land after he allowed them on site ‘out of kindness’.

In his final statement to the jury, Mr Milne said, “The site went from green to grey” as rubble and waste was spread across the whole land, not just the tip area in the north east corner.

Mr Milne told the court soil was placed on top of the area ahead of Ms Debenham’s inspection visit, alleging it was an attempt by Mr Smith “to cover up what he had done,” comparing it to “hanging a picture over a hole in the wall.”

“Mr Smith is not someone who takes kindly to something not going his way,” Mr Milne told the jury, “and this man had his nose significantly out of joint.

“His policy is build, build, build, deflect, deflect, deflect, blame, blame, blame.”

Mr Smith then provided his final statement, describing Merrie Gardens as a sustainable development which creates jobs for Island people.

In relation to the charges, Mr Smith said: “I did my best, or should I say, more reasonable endeavours, to get it all fixed, not that we’re admitting all that.”

Evidence given to the court by Ms Debenham “were lies,” said Mr Smith, “it could be perjury, it could be incompetence or just misleading the jury.”

Speaking about Mr Milne, Mr Smith told the jury: “What the ‘thought police’ are trying to put into your heads is that the dates were wrong, suggesting I did things in the wrong order.

“If we’ve done something wrong, we’ve remedied it.”

Some of the land is not in the enforcement area, and trucks on the land had nothing to do with him, claimed Mr Smith.

Mr Smith concluded: “To convict me today is to say I connived, lied and cheated.

“If you find me guilty, I will be a felon, banned from seven countries, does that sound fair?”

Mr Smith stated his intention to appeal should the jury’s decision return as guilty.

UPDATE: Jurors will return to crown court tomorrow (Wednesday) to finish deliberating and give their verdict.