A man jailed for repeatedly hurling homophobic abuse at his gay neighbours in Plymouth has been released on appeal.

65-year-old Reginald Brayford, of Beaumont Road, St Judes, Plymouth, was imprisoned for 20 weeks by city magistrates earlier this month.

Brayford admitted pursuing a course of conduct amounting to the harassment of the two men between January and September.

He shouted that gay people had “no right to be in society” and that they should “go back to where they belong”.

Although pleading guilty to the charges, Brayford immediately appealed the sentence at Plymouth Crown Court.

Scott Horner, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the two victims had been left suffering from depression, feeling “physically sick” and afraid to leave home for fear of further abuse.

Yesterday, judge Graham Cottle, sitting with two magistrates, said he understood why the court passed the 20-week sentence, because of the persistence of the abuse and the effect it had on the victims.

But he said they had to look at the sentence afresh, after Brayford had spent two weeks in prison.

Judge Cottle said: “The experience of the last two weeks, for a man with no previous experience of custody, we have no doubt must have been a serious shock to the system.

“You must have been inside 23 out of 24 hours a day. We have no doubt the right approach was a short, sharp shock and that is exactly what you have had. You have served the equivalent of four weeks in prison.”

The Plymouth Herald reports Brayford was handed a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, meaning he was released immediately.

A restraining order preventing contact with the two men remains in place.

The court heard Brayford was in the process of selling his house to avoid any chance of repeating his offending. He had moved away from the couple and into a caravan.