A MAN who made a gun gesture towards a couple he had been involved in a feud with has avoided by jailed after spending six months on remand.

David Peterson embarked on a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Katrina and Ian Irving last summer despite being given a restraining order to keep him away from them.

The 51-year-old threatened to kill the couple on two occasions after branding them as grasses.

Teesside Crown Court heard how his three-month long vendetta came to a head in July last when Peterson hurled abuse at the pair as they walked along South Road in Hartlepool.

Stephen Duffield, prosecuting, said: "He looked at her and said 'I'm going to burn them out. I'm going to f***ing kill you, you're a pair of grasses'. He then shouted 'nonce' to Mr Irving.

"Mrs Irving was extremely frightened and took the shopping off her husband, as Peterson walked towards them he took his jacket off and she thought there would be trouble.

"He threatened the husband and said he was going to 'kill you'. He started to fiddle with the rear of his trousers (as though he was going for a weapon) and they were very frightened."

Mr Duffield said Peterson had also abused Mrs Irving on dates in April and May last year.

The court heard how the defendant had left a series of threatening and abusive messages on the answer machine of a property company who he blamed for switching off his electricity.

Peterson, of Brafferton Street, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to sending malicious communication to the housing manager, two charges of making threats to kill and six charges of breaching a restraining order.

In mitigation, Andrew Turton, said his client had used his time on remand to reflect on his behaviour and accepted that he was fully to blame for the 'feud'.

He said: "He may well have reached a crossroads in his life and had the last six months to reflect on his behaviour."

Judge Peter Armstrong sentenced Peterson to 16 months in custody, suspended it for 12 months.

He said: "There were a number of threats from across the streets but there was no actual violence used."