POISON pen letters, abusive posters, pornographic material and paint bombs were part of a bizarre 12-year hate campaign waged by a pensioner against fellow villagers, a court was told.

Teesside crown court heard that 67-year-old James Forster targeted a number of people in the small community of Manfield, between Richmond and Darlington.

Victims included an elderly woman, the family who eventually bought her house, members of the parish council and a 13-year-old girl, who was sent a pornographic magazine and note, said Mr Michael O'Neill, prosecuting.

The trial, which began on Tuesday, heard evidence from Mr Eric Collin, a former neighbourhood watch co-ordinator in the village, who was the subject of insulting posters which depicted him as disgraced former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar.

The posters and a stream of abusive letters began after Mr Collin helped Mr Roy Kellett, another victim of the hate campaign, set up a trip wire to trap the culprit.

Mr Kellett told the court that his house had been bombarded with paint bombs made from lightbulbs, which he said came from the direction of the defendant's home. His car was damaged three times with acid and tacks and the back window was smashed.

Mr Kellett's daughter, Miss Joanne Kellett, then aged 21, a Teesdale district council accountant, received what she described as "offensive, abusive and insulting" letters claiming she was a prostitute. She began receiving the notes soon after moving to Manfield with her parents in 1989.

Another victim, Mrs Mollie Christian, aged 88, who moved into a cottage near Forster in 1986 and lived alone, said she received threats that her home would be bombed. Her front door lock was glued, her windows scratched and trees and a bird box disappeared from her garden.

Mrs Christian, who arrived at court in a wheelchair, said she received three letters, including one threatening to put a bomb down her chimney. When she sold her home in 1988 to the Kellett family, they became the targets of the poison pen writer.

Mrs Rhona Wane, the parish clerk, and her daughter, Catherine, then aged 13, were also victims. An envelope containing a pornographic magazine and a note were sent to the teenager. The court heard a torn piece of paper found by police in Forster's desk matched tear marks on the paper on which the note was written when examined by scientists.

The jury was also told that, when police raided Forster's home in 1999, they found a list of names which matched the recipients of letters claiming Mr Collin was spreading malicious gossip.

Forster, of Kirklea, Grunton Lane, Manfield, denies three charges of threatening to destroy or damage property, three of damaging property, three of sending indecent or obscene mail, one of incitement to commit burglary and one of putting a person in fear of violence.

The case continues.