A MAN who told a funeral director his neighbour's wife had died when she was still alive has pleaded guilty to a campaign of harassment.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court heard that the couple were left distressed after they were visited by the Co-operative following the call from David Lawson.

It was said that Lawson, 63, of Kirkham Close, Newton Aycliffe, made the call after the woman's husband was due to give evidence against him in court.

It was also said Lawson, who pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment, targeted another neighbour after an agreement over a lawnmower turned sour.

Chris Bunting, prosecuting, said: "At one time Lawson and (the victim) were close friends. They agreed to split the cost of a lawnmower that each of them would use.

"The relationship soured to a point where there was little communication between them.

"Then a text message was sent by Lawson calling, without any foundation, (the victim) a pervert and a paedophile.

"Lawson was also seen tipping a bucket of cold water onto (the victim's) drive in December so it would make a slippery patch and a hazard.

"He then sang a rude version of the song Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool which was offensive to (the victim).

Mr Bunting said Lawson had had previous problems with another neighbour prior to the call to the funeral parlour.

One day Co-operative Funeral Care contacted (the victim), he said.

"Lawson had gone online and told them that funeral arrangements were needed. It caused distress and it upset (the victim)."

Mr Bunting added that a few weeks earlier Lawson had driven into Kirkham Close as (the victim) crossed the road in a manner which made her worried he might hit her.

Nick Woodhouse, defending, said Lawson had tried to cancel the funeral directors, but he was too late to prevent the visit.

The magistrates adjourned the case until Monday, September 30, so that a pre-sentence report could be prepared.