A gay man who tried to poison his neighbours in a row over a cat avoided jail yesterday.

Gareth Stewart, of Denton, Manchester, gave Marie Walton and Beverley Sales a curry laced with slug pellets after a feud which started years ago.

The couple had accused him of kidnapping their three-legged cat and leaving it in a village several miles away.

On one occasion, Stewart, 37, had called social services to allege that Walton and Sales had been neglecting their eight-year-old son. Social workers were sent to investigate the couple.

He pleaded guilty to the attempted poisoning but denied making threats to kill.

Minshull Street Crown Court heard that the couple accepted the curry from Stewart in September but called police when they noticed a chemical smell coming from it.

The amount of chemicals was not considered enough to kill an adult.

Stewart told the court he had been struggling since his partner died from an AIDS-related illness in the summer.

He was also barred from coming within 400 metres of the couple’s home, meaning he must move house.