A MAN who nearly forced his neighbours out of their homes with a torrent of abuse and unruly behaviour was yesterday ordered to curb his conduct or face jail.

Terence Cuthbert Brannigan, 52, of Verdun Terrace, West Cornforth, County Durham, was made the subject of a five-year anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) by magistrates sitting at Bishop Auckland.

He was found to have caused distress to neighbours by playing loud music, banging on walls, shouting, hammering and allowing other family members to behave in the same way.

He also swore at neighbours between December last year and June.

Police solicitor Chris Southey said: "Some neighbours were so desperate they considered leaving the village they have lived in for years, some for generations. One couple tried to buy his house.

"There were incidents of anti-social behaviour when he wasn't present, but the head of the household sets a benchmark for the way children behave and this has also caused a nuisance to neighbours."

Brannigan's solicitor, Andrew Holmes, said he denied all the allegations, believing the neighbours were ganging up on him and trying to blacken his name.

The Asbo stops Brannigan from harassing, intimidating, threatening or abusing any person in England and Wales.

He is also banned from playing recorded music or causing the use of televisions, radios, videos and DVDs that could annoy others, carrying out manual work between 10.30pm and 9.30am or causing a nuisance to neighbours by banging on the walls of his house.

The order will run until October 13, 2009, and any breach the conditions could lead to a prison sentence of up to five years or a heavy fine.

Sergeant Kelvin Vincent said: "We are very satisfied with the outcome.

"We hope that this order offers some relief to the residents of West Cornforth and offers protection to other members of the community, wherever he should live in future."