Millionaire who illegally built ‘UK’s best man cave’ with casino dodges jail
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A millionaire who illegally built what he describes as the "UK's best man cave" in his back garden was narrowly spared jail.
Rich accountant Graham Wildin built a bowling alley, cinema, squash court, bar and casino in an extension to his home.
The 68-year-old found himself angering neighbours when it was discovered he built the luxury extension without the required planning permission, GloucestershireLive reports.
But the pensioner refused to have the cave removed, sparking a lengthy legal fight resulting in a High Court judge giving him until the end of April 2020 to remove the 10,000sq/ft complex.
This ordered Mr Wildin to tear down the sports centre as it had a serious impact on his neighbours in Cinderford, Gloucestershire.
With the controversial building still standing past the given deadline, Wildin appeared in court last week where he claimed he could not comply for various reasons, including being unable to find contractors and the inability to find the necessary money.
Due to the claimed lack of funds, the judge was not prepared to find Mr Wildin in contempt of court for the requirement to demolish the building entirely.
Instead, he was found in contempt of court for not soft stripping the interior of the building, for not decommissioning services, and in four other respects.
Mr Justice Jarman handed down a custodial sentence of six weeks, suspended for 12 months.
This was imposed on the condition that he strip the interior of the building including removing all sports equipment, the cinema, bowling alley, all doors, lighting, radiators, fixtures, fittings, sanitary ware, and furniture, along with disconnecting electricity and water supplies within 18 weeks.
Speaking after the case Forest of Dean District Council leader Tim Gwilliam said: "Today’s result was completely avoidable.
"If Mr Wildin had followed the advice of the many experts who advised him to comply with the law, he would not have faced this outcome.
"The council's determination to see this matter through was not borne out of malice or trying to attack someone who has been a businessman in the district for many years, but simply out of doing what is right and fair.
"Every year, hundreds of people ask the council for planning advice and follow it.
"The council does its best to assist people in securing permissions for development proposals that improve the environment in which they live whilst safeguarding the community. It is important that the planning rules and policies are adhered to."
He went on: "The Forest of Dean District Council would like to thank the people of the Forest and the people of Cinderford in particular for their patience while we followed the lengthy process of making this happen."
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