A MAN launched a poison-pen letter scam and framed his brother-in-law in a bid to be re-housed away from his family.

Father-of-four John Tyler, 28, sent letters to himself saying "get out of town" and "watch your back", and signed them Lee Sheavills.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Mr Sheavills, Tyler's brother- in-law, lived just a few doors away in Stanley, County Durham.

Mr Sheavills was arrested and interviewed after Tyler's windows were smashed, and asked to give a sample of his handwriting.

Four weeks later, after spending some more time in custody, Mr Sheavills was released without charge after it came to light that the handwriting was Tyler's.

Christopher Prince, prosecuting, told the court how Tyler immediately confessed that he had sent the letters to himself in the hope he would get re-housed after a feud with his in-laws.

Mr Prince added: "A considerable amount of police time was taken up in the investigation and caused untold stress on Mr Sheavill and his family."

Tyler, of Austin Place, Stanley, was jailed for six weeks after he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. He admitted he had written the letters because he wished to be moved away from his wife's family, but said he had been receiving threats.

Paul Caulfield, defending, said: "This man is not a sophisticated criminal, he is a fool. He did not think through the full consequences of his behaviour.

"This was an act of desperation. He was in a situation were the pressure was mounting and he felt there was no way of adequately dealing with it."

Judge William Crawford said: "Your barrister has said you are a fool and you are certainly that.

"But it went beyond that, you were wicked. This is far too serious to justify a non-custodial sentence."