A GWENT businessman who destroyed parts of his Grade II listed home treated the historic property like a "Footballers Wives" mansion, a judge said yesterday.

Tearing down period features and completely destroying several parts of the Shirenewton house, was, Judge David Wynn Morgan said, akin to "painting a moustache on a fine Old Master, or adding a drum and bass track to music written by Mozart."

Andrew Hazell, the proprietor of a road haulage business, and son of Newport Gwent Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell, was yesterday fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,487 at Cardiff Crown Court for carrying out structural work at his £2 million home The Grondra in Shirenewton without local authority consent.

He spent £750,000 on unauthorised work and will now have to pay more than £450,000 to remedy it.

The Gronda is considered one of the finest 18th century houses in Gwent, the court heard.

But Judge Morgan told 46-year-old Hazell he had treated the house, The Grondra, Shirenewton as if it were featured in the "Football Wives" television series.

Hazell had admitted altering the Grade II listed building without consent.

Prosecutor Carl Harrison said the house was one of the finest of its kind in the county, approached by a beech-lined drive with many outstanding period features.

Hazell bought it in 2004 with his wife for £2 million and would have known it was a listed building.

In November 2006, Paula Clarke, a planning officer with Monmouthshire County Council, visited the property and found a 17th century cottage had been remodelled. The garage was demolished, an extra storey had been built, the utility room was demolished, a swimming pool was under construction and there was a new garage for six vehicles. The courtyard had a glass roof, stone pillars had been erected and there was modern plaster work and cornices.

Ms Clarke was refused access to the house and Hazell was told to stop work. A warrant was later obtained to enter and photographs were taken.

Mr Harrison said when Hazell appeared in court earlier this year a timetable was prepared for him to carry out remedial work, but there was a delay of 22 weeks.

Hazell's counsel Gwydion Hughes said some of the delay was caused because the planning authority wanted him to carry out exceptional work and he needed a licence to work in areas containing three species of bats.

"He doesn't have finite resources and a substantial fine could affect the work," he said.

The judge said he deferred sentence in this case because he wanted to be sure that the property would be restored and not put up for sale in its present state after Hazell had cut his losses.

"I did not want to impose a fine that would make it impossible for you to carry out the work.

"In this instance money spent on the heritage is more important than simply filling public coffers."

He added that Hazell would be left with a property vastly more valuable than the one he was trying to create.

"Some properties are immune to the vagaries of the housing market and I believe that this is one of them."

He told Hazell: "The acquisition of a historic property is a privilege of wealth but a privilege that goes hand in hand with responsibility, a responsibility to take care and preserve."

Hazell, he said, thought he had the right not to be bound by restricted considerations such as planning requirements.

Over a considerable period of time, he said he treated the planning regulations with contempt "indeed as if they did not exist."

By the time his behaviour came to light he had caused considerable damage, completely destroying an old addition to it and old timbers and period features had been lost for ever.

"Features that were intended to improve had been added without consideration or sympathy rather like painting a moustache on a fine Old Master, or adding a drum and bass track to music written by Mozart."

Simon Robertshaw, Monmouthshire council's conservation manager said: "It is extremely regrettable that there has been a significant loss of historic fabric and character at The Grondra.

"The success of this prosecution is due to many factors including the support of the planning committee for  enforcement within the county. It is hoped the judgement and sentence in this case will  make listed building owners think before carrying out any unauthorised work to their homes.  "It is sincerely hoped that we can move forward with Mr Hazell to restore the character of this fine listed building."