Builder fined for opening sluice gate on flooded Somerset Levels
A builder who tampered with sluice gates during last winter's floods on the Somerset Levels has been fined £1,000.
Lee Goddard, 40, from Hambridge, pleaded guilty to opening Slabgate sluice between 20 and 23 December.
Taunton Magistrates' Court heard his actions caused an estimated 45,000 cubic metres of water to head towards the village of Thorney.
Goddard claimed he had wanted to divert flood water away from his property.
Prosecutors said the effect of Goddard's actions had caused the water levels in Thorney to rise.
However, they said it could not be known whether this had then directly caused damage to properties in the village.
The private prosecution was brought by the Parrett Internal Drainage Board. By opening the sluice gate, Goddard breached a local by-law and the Land Drainage Act.
Speaking after the court case, Nick Stevens, from the drainage board, said: "If this kind of activity were undertaken across the whole of Somerset, it would be anarchy and that's not how we manage flood risk in Somerset."
Goddard was also ordered to pay £1,500 for the prosecution costs and the cost of repairing the sluice gate.
Large parts of the Somerset Levels were battered by storms during the 2013-14 winter months with hundreds of people evacuated from their homes.