A MAN who kicked a neighbour's car had been subjected to years of harrassment by the owner, a court heard yesterday.

Kevin Neil Allen, 38, pleaded guilty to kicking a Vauxhall Astra belonging to Peter Sidgewick on July 20.

Derek Walton, prosecuting, said the car was parked outside Mr Sidgewick's house when Allen kicked it, causing £235 damage.

The incident was recorded on Mr Sidgewick's closed-circuit television system.

However, Laura Saunders-Jerrom, defending, said there was a long history between the two men, because Allen lives with Mr Sidgewick's former partner and their three children.

"There has been a terrible and intricate history of trouble between the parties, mostly centred around contact with the children, which has been aggravated by the fact they all live in the same street," she said.

"While my client does not condone this behaviour, he has been the brunt of a lot of harrassment."

She described how Mr Sidgewick had made various complaints to police and social services since his former partner and their children moved in with Allen - all of which had been investigated but no action taken.

She said Mr Allen's 19-year-old son had also been taunted and Mr Sidgewick had accused Allen of smashing a window on New Year's Eve, but no action was taken after a police investigation.

Mrs Saunders-Jerrom said that on the day Allen kicked the car, Mr Sidgewick had taunted the family again, so he decided to go around to his house to sort it out.

When Mr Sidgewick refused to answer the door, Allen kicked the car once out of frustration, before walking away.

Mrs Saunders-Jerrom showed the court a photograph of the damage caused and said it was more likely to cost £50 to £100 to correct.

"Mr Allen had been tormented to a good degree for a matter of years, not just weeks. He has shown he is contrite and really sorry," she said.

Magistrates gave Allen, of Clifton Road, Darlington, a six-month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £50 compensation to Mr Sidgewick and £50 costs.