YOU cannot choose your neighbours, but if you could Michael Hayward would be well down most people's lists.

Hayward yesterday started a two-year prison sentence after a ten-year campaign of harassment against his neighbours Stanley and Jill Thomas.

Hayward is a true neighbour from hell. He has featured in Argus reports on several occasions.

He subjected the Thomases to silent telephone calls on a daily basis. At one point he made more than 100 calls in one 24-hour period.

Hayward threw stones and rubbish at his neighbours' home, they say, and subjected them to verbal abuse.

An Asbo had no effect of him. A short spell in prison had no effect on him.

Even after Hayward had moved from Machen to Rhiwderin, he continued to harass his former neighbours.

The Thomas family should not have to go through what they did for as long as they did.

Hayward's solicitor says his client needs help. We are sure he is right.

But so do people like the Thomases.

The victims in these cases generally have to suffer for years while a case is built up against their tormentor.

That cannot be right.

There must be better, quicker ways to help people like the Thomas family. They need more protection from neighbours from hell like Michael Hayward.

At least, with Hayward behind bars, the Thomas family can sleep easy for months to come.