A pensioner has been given a restraining order stopping him going within 100 metres of a gay couple.

Dennis Scanes, 66, had waged a seven month homophobic hate campaign against Kevin Whitburn and Andrew Brown as well as Mr Whitburn’s mother.

A court heard that Scanes had teased the couple and upset Mr Whitburn’s 79-year-old mother, through swearing, insults and obscene gestures, as well as trying to get other neighbours involved.

Mr Whitburn, a carer for his mother and blind boyfriend, told the Exeter Express and Echo, “We are not worried about our sexuality but we want to reassure other people in similar situations that there is help out there and they should go out and get it.

“The worst part was the great deal of stress this caused to my elderly mother, to elderly neighbours and to people who might not have the strength to speak out.

“If Mr Scanes stays in the street, we’re not going to feel safe. When he was arrested and spent time in custody, there was a feeling of calm on the estate.”

Prosecutor Shaun Tipton said Scanes refused to let officers into his home and kicked one when they came to investigate the harassment.

Scanes’ lawyer, Peter Woodley, denied his client is homophobic, he said: “His behaviour is not to intimidate, it’s simply Mr Scanes being a very unpleasant man.

“He’s an elderly, lonely man. Some people mellow with age but Mr Scanes has allowed his cantankerousness to get the better of him.”

Scanes pleaded guilty to a charge of harassment a bail offence and assaulting a police officer he told the court, “I am very sorry. I’ve been very confused and distressed.”

Mr Whitburn praised the police, he said: “We had a great deal of help from the council and we hope for their continued support in this matter.”

Scanes is still allowed to live in the same street as the couple but the court heard that Exeter City Council are considering evicting him, a spokesman said: “We are looking at taking appropriate action.”