A NIGHTMARE neighbour launched a hate campaign against a wheelchair user – branding him a benefit scrounger because he had seen him walking.
David McGregor bullied Peter Greener, who suffers from a brain condition, in a three-month torrent of abuse which ended when he sprayed offensive graffiti on his fence calling him a “lowlife”.
South Tyneside magistrates heard the 38-year-old also encouraged his own children to mock the dad-of-two about the illness, which he believed was being exaggerated.
McGregor, also a dad-of-two, threw rocks at Mr Greener’s front window, chased his victim down the street in his car and waved a petrol hedge strimmer at him during an angry confrontation.
The campaign against Mr Greener, who has nerve damage causing the same syptoms as multiple sclerosis, lasted from May until September this year.
McGregor, of Johnston Avenue, Hebburn, pleaded guilty to charges of harassment, criminal damage and attempted criminal damage and was handed a suspended prison sentence.
Magistrates heard that the two men’s children had been friends, but late last year Mr Greener and his wife had stopped their son and daughter from hanging around with McGregor’s. Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said McGregor was warned about harassing Mr Greener in May this year after a group of children, including his own, gathered at his front window to shout abuse.
She said: “Community support officers believed that the defendant had encouraged his children to taunt the injured party and they urged him to keep a diary of future events.
“On June 28, Mr Greener was coming home from the local shop and he heard McGregor shout at him. He told him he didn’t want any trouble, but the defendant accused him of calling his son names.
“McGregor had a hedge trimmer in his hands and Mr Greeener felt intimidated.”
The court heard that the Greeener’s put up a CCTV camera to record any further problems, and on September 4 it recorded a group of children throwing stones against their window while jobless McGregor looked on.
Mrs Smith said another neighbour heard him telling his children to call the family scum and calling him a benefit scrounger.
On September 24, Mr Greener returned home to find his fence had been daubed with abuse and CCTV showed McGregor spray-painting it.
David Hatfield, defending, said: “He tells me he has a significant alcohol problem and these crimes wouldn’t have been committed if he hadn’t.
“These go back to September and there have been no incidents since then.
“He was the victim of a significant attack some years ago and he has never dealt with the fall out.”
Magistrates gave McGregor a 10-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
He will be supervised by the probation service for that period and must carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.
He was also given a restraining order and told not to harrass or intimidate the Greener family for 12 months.