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Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
'Mole man' spared prison sentence
William Lyttle's house
William Lyttle's tunnels have led to public safety fears
A pensioner known as the "mole man" for digging tunnels under his property has been given a suspended jail term for flouting a court order.

William Lyttle, 75, admitted breaching the injunction in relation to the premises on Mortimer Road, east London.

The house is in danger of collapse and Lyttle has been evicted from his home.

He admitted removed sheeting from the boundary and interfering with the roof. He was jailed at London High Court for 28 days, suspended for six months.

Lyttle has excavated tunnels under his house in Mortimer Road, Hackney, over the last four decades.

Prisons are quite full enough with criminals and he is not a criminal - he is a fool
Mr Justice Butterfield

Hackney Council feared Lyttle's activities have potentially endangered public safety.

Mr Justice Butterfield said his "predilection for tunnelling" could cause serious danger to the public.

He said: "I'm not going to send him to prison today. Prisons are quite full enough with criminals and he is not a criminal - he is a fool."

He added: "These were flagrant breaches of a court order. He knew perfectly well what he was doing."

He made a costs order against Lyttle without an enforcement as the pensioner was on income support. He also refused Lyttle permission to appeal.

Council engineers won an order to evict him so they could carry out emergency repairs to make the property safe.

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