A “NEIGHBOUR from Hell” made the lives of the couple next door unbearable, a court heard.

John Hughes, 65, watched and filmed his neighbours and continually stared at them.

He even spied on them through holes he created in the boundary fence between them and trained a CCTV camera on their property.

Flintshire magistrates heard yesterday he would pretend to cut grass in front of his neighbours’ home simply so he could watch them.

On occasions he would not even turn his strimmer on as he stood there looking at them.

Hughes, of Rhewl Fawr Road, Penyffordd, near Mostyn, had denied harassment between March and August of last year but was convicted at an earlier trial.

Hughes, said to suffer from mental health problems, received a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was told to pay £500 costs.

He was placed on a community penalty and must stay indoors daily between 8pm and 8am.

A five-year restraining order was made and he must not approach neighbours Jonathan and Ruth Hughes and their children.

A series of conditions were made to curb his future behaviour.

The Mold court was told Hughes intended to appeal against his conviction.

Magistrates’ chairman Allan Bissell told Hughes he was guilty of a deliberate and relentless campaign of intrusive behaviour and had shown no remorse. “You have made their lives a misery,” he told him.

Mr Bissell said some of the acts complained of might appear trivial taken individually but the culminative effect was a sustained and particularly unpleasant course of conduct amounting to harassment.

The court heard a hospital order was not appropriate but magistrates were assured that social services and a psychiatrist were involved in regular counselling.

Matthew Ellis, prosecuting, said the defendant lived at a property he had built in his garden after selling his original home to the Hughes family.

The situation had deteriorated to such an extent that both families had CCTV.

Mr and Mrs Hughes said they simply wanted to be able to lead a normal quiet life without being constantly watched by Hughes.

Arrested and interviewed, Hughes denied the allegations and claimed he was the victim of a malicious and vicious campaign against him.

Jonathan Hughes told police in a victim impact statement that he was mentally worn out and his family was suffering harassment on an almost daily basis. He called Hughes a bully who intimidated people.

Ruth Hughes said they had no privacy because the defendant would watch them or film them all the time. She did not feel her home was a safe place to be.

Mrs Hughes told how she had started to suffer stress-related seizures and partially blamed the harassment for that. She said she loved where they lived but wished she could erase the last five or six years of her life.

Andrew McInnes, defending, said Hughes had been convicted of harassment over a particular period last year and no more.

While it was claimed he had shown no remorse, Hughes believed he had done nothing wrong.

Stephen Bowie, a team manager from adult mental health services, said Hughes did not see he was in the wrong and custody would not be a deterrent for him.