A MAN who put his neighbours through hell and continued to harass them through hoax phone calls has been sent to prison.

Michael Hayward, 51 of Tredegar Street, Rhiwderin, Newport, was in Newport Crown court yesterday, after pleading guilty to two counts of breaching his anti-social behaviour order (ASBO).

The original ASBO was made in 2007. His former neighbours in Machen say their problems with him began a decade ago.

Count one of the charges Hayward admitted concerned some 79 silent calls made to the family of Stanley Thomas, his former neighbours in Machen.

The court heard how Hayward would call the Thomas’s home day and night up to seven times a day, only to be silent when they picked up.

Count two covered 41 hoax calls made to the emergency services, which prosecutor Ian Kolvin told the court often suggested people had been shot or injured. On one occasion a police helicopter was called out for a suspected firearm - another hoax.

Hayward, who has 23 previous convictions, has been in custody since December of last year.

Andrew Taylor, for Hayward, said his client needed help. He said: “He’s a man that needs help - a man who has very deep-rooted problems.”

In April 2012, Hayward was sentenced to 12 months for ASBO breaches by making persistent silent phone calls to the Thomas', with the court hearing 100 of these were over a 24-hour period.

Judge Peter Griffin QC said yesterday: “[Mr Thomas] has had to put up with an enormous disruption to his own enjoyment of life for years.

“You have impacted adversely on his life to very significant extent.”

Judge Griffin said he couldn’t imagine a “much worse example of these offences,” and Hayward was sentenced to two years imprisonment for each count, to be served concurrently.

Judge Griffin also imposed a restraining order lasting ten years, prohibiting Hayward from making any contact with Mr Thomas or his family.

Mr Thomas, 72, from Machen, who was in court for the sentencing, said: “I was hoping for a longer sentence, after all we’ve been through. He’s had enough chances.”

Mr Thomas has been back and forth to court since the troubles with his former neighbour began more than ten years ago, working with police to gather evidence.

“The hard thing is finding the proof,” said Mr Thomas who claimed past incidents with Hayward included having stones and rubbish thrown at their property as well as verbal assaults. He said: “My daughter went through hell.”

Hayward’s house was sold in 2012, but the distance did not stop him bothering the Thomases.

“He will not stop,” said Mr Thomas, who has little hope the restraining order will act as a deterrent once Hayward is out of prison.

Despite the troubles, Mr Thomas said he had not considered moving house. He said: “Why should I let someone like that destroy our lives?”