DISABLED Peter Greener said he feels like a prisoner in his own home after being tormented for months about his illness by neighbour David McGregor.
The 39-year-old, who suffers from the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) due to nerve damage to his brain, was called scum, a lowlife and a benefit scrounger by McGregor, who was given a suspended prison sentence by magistrates this week.
The campaign of hate left dad-of-two Mr Greener in floods of tears, on anti-depressants and with thoughts of suicide.
The former Nissan car-sprayer was diagnosed with his illness three years ago and has seen his condition worsen since then.
Now, he often needs crutches to walk and sometimes is confined to a wheelchair, but South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard McGregor thought he was exaggerating his symptoms.
Mr Greener, who lives with wife Joanne and children Chloe, 13 and Ryan, 11, said: “He made our lives hell.
“We are a family who like to keep ourselves to ourselves, but the abuse we have suffered is terrible.
“He has called me a cripple and a scrounger and got his children to do the same.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve it. Every time he saw us in the street he would shout something. “It got to the point where I couldn’t go out. I would keep freezing and worrying I was going to bump into him.
“I felt like a prisoner in my own home. There were times when I thought it was my fault, and if I wasn’t like this, my family would be fine.
“I told my doctor that I had suicidal thoughts. I would never do anything like that, but that’s how low I was.”
Mr Greener added that the whole family were made to suffer and are still feeling the after-effects.
He said: “I don’t know whether he has a problem with disabled people, but I can’t see why he would say what he did.
“The kids are suffering now too. Chloe is seeing the doctor because she’s off her food and Ryan is acting up – it has affected us all in different ways.
“Hopefully it will stop now, and we can move on.
“We have enough on our plates with my illness without having to deal with that.”
David Farnham, chairman of the South Tyneside MS Society, also blasted McGregor for his treatment.
He said: “Unfortunately there are a minority of people that because they don’t see a person confined to a wheelchair all the time, don’t believe there must be anything wrong with them.
“People with MS or similar conditions will not only have good days and bad days, their condition will change throughout a day.
“With me, you could see me walking around fine on a morning, and by teatime I might need to use my chair.
“Unfortunately in this day and age you get this form of bullying, which is what it is.
“This man clearly didn’t understand what his neighbour was going through.
“Hopefully, his sentence will make him think about it in future.”