'We are stuck here'. Family living next door to nightmare neighbour Ian Snowball reveal their anguish
The family living beside neighbour-from-hell Ian Snowball said his actions had an "horrendous" effect on them and admit they are now "stuck" with their property.
As reported by the Echo this week, Snowball, 40, has been handed a restraining order after making constant complaints to the authorities and training CCTV on their home.
His next-door neighbours, who live adjoined to him in their pristine semi-detached £350,000 Edwardian villa house in Ryhope Road, Sunderland, said have lived in a constant state of anxiety, wondering what he will do next.
The family, a 54-year-old senior lecturer, his 57-year-old senior NHS manager wife and their 17-year-old daughter, do not wish to be named but have spoken out to highlight what they have been through.
Speaking after the case, the neighbour said: "The court case and CCTV were pretty stressful for us.
"He had a camera which looked directly into our bedroom, we'd get up in the morning and open our curtains and see his camera pointing at us."
The lecturer and his wife moved into their beautiful home, which overlooks a park and is close to the sea, in 1990.
But the father-of-one admitted: "We couldn't even move. Nobody would want to live here, everybody knows what he's like and we'd have to declare our dispute.
"We are stuck here."
The neighbour thinks that it is a change in harassment law - which recognises his behaviour is breaking the law - that allowed Snowball to be held to account.
"This behaviour rarely crosses the line of the law, so this offending is allowed to continue, but the effect of his harassment is horrendous," he said.
"We lived in fear of what he will say and even of reading any letters that come through the door.
"It has been quieter since the court appearance, we breathed a sigh of relief. We have been able to go outside and enjoy our gardening for the first time in four years.
"I am pleased it has come to court and that it will be aired. It is finally out there what he has done. He doesn't think he has done anything wrong, he would just sweep it under the carpet.
"It's a shame because we live in a lovely street with lovely neighbours and in a lovely community, all apart from him in the middle.
"We have tried everything, we have even tried to be nice to Snowball but it did not work.
"The only thing left in the end was to involve the police. We couldn't cope with it anymore."
Snowball was handed an open-ended restraining order preventing him from having anything to do with his neighbours after he appeared at Sunderland Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
He had previously denied separate charges of harassment and criminal damage.
But on the day of the trial, he admitted an amended charge of Section 2 Harassment - bringing both charges together - for harassing the family between March 11, 2014, and December 27, 2015.
During those dates, he called the police on 32 occasions, making various allegations about the victims - for which no action was taken against them.
Prosecutor Fiona Varley said: "It's quite a saga, that's been going on for some time.
"The people next door have had ongoing problems with Mr Snowball dating back to 2001."
Ms Varley told the court that Snowball, who does not work and lives alone with his elderly mum, reported the male neighbour to the police in March 2014.
This led officers to issue a police information notice to Snowball, to stop him harassing the neighbours.
Things came to a head during the May bank holiday that year, when the neighbour received papers from the civil court.
"Mr Snowball was trying to take him to court for defamation of character and wanted £350,000 compensation.
"The neighbour filed a deference at Newcastle County Court.
"The case was immediately quashed by the judge, who imposed an injunction preventing him from taking action for two years."
As a result, Snowball became one of only 58 people in the country, to be made subject to a Civil Restraint Order, banning him from the county courts and the High Court for two years. The order expired last week.
She said: "On August 27, the injured party reported to the police the presence of a CCTV camera in Mr Snowball's bedroom, on the first floor.
"It was pointing into his and his wife's bedroom.
"On October 6, at 2pm the injured party was walking home from the shops when he saw Mr Snowball's Volvo and noticed he had his arm extended out.
"He had his mobile phone and was recording him."
Magistrates fined Snowball £120 and told him to pay £85 costs and a £20 surcharge.
Chris Brown, defending, said: "This is a neighbour dispute. He and his mother had been living in the property for some 37 years.
"Mr Snowball is 40 years old, so essentially all his life he's been living there.
"Some issues have arisen in the last couple of years."
Mr Brown said his client suffers from a neurological disorder, which causes a number of difficulties, including learning difficulties and boarder-line Asperger's Syndrome.
He said: "He felt he was doing it perfectly legitimately."