A man has been jailed for four and a half years after a longrunning neighbours' dispute ended in tragedy when he knifed a father- of- three through the heart.

Brian Bowering (42) goaded his victim by staring and laughing at him as he played with his six-year-old daughter outside their home in Wolverhampton.

Moments later he grabbed a steak knife as Robert Breakwell approached him wielding a pickaxe and stabbed him to death.

A judge at Wolverhampton Crown Court said Bowering, of Brinsford Road, Pendeford, had deliberately "psyched out" his victim but accepted his plea of guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of provocation.

The court heard the victim and his family had made arrangements to sell their home and escape a campaign of abuse by their neighbour, by moving to Spain, just two days before his death.

Mr Breakwell had made a number of complaints against Bowering in the years leading up to his death and was even directed to counselling by his GP over the anxiety and distress he was caused.

Bowering, who was convicted of stabbing another neighbour in 1991, had also made complaints about the Breakwell family.

James Burbidge QC, prosecuting, said it was not clear how the disagreement between the two neighbours was initially started, but it reached a tragic conclusion on August 15, 2004.

Bowering was driving his 4x4 vehicle home when he spotted his victim and began staring at him.

Mr Burbidge told the court: "Brian Bowering said to the police that he decided to stare at Robert Breakwell to psyche him out, to wind him up."

Mr Breakwell raised his daughter's scooter that she was playing with and gestured at the car before going into his home and returning with a piece of wood.

He approached the car and hit Bowering over the shoulder with the pickaxe handle before the defendant grabbed the knife from his car door.

He stabbed him twice in the chest, leaving him with a fatal wound to the heart, more than 10 cm deep.

Mr Breakwell staggered into his house, then returned and collapsed on the front lawn. He died almost immediately.

Owen Davis QC, defending, said: "Unhappily there was clearly a very bad state of affairs between the two. On the one hand, it could be said that Robert Breakwell was manifesting an aggression that day that he had manifested on several occasions and wielded a pickaxe handle.

"It could be said that Brian Bowering had driven Robert Breakwell to distraction.

"This was not a knife being carried by Brian Bowering in preparation or in contemplation of a confrontation with the deceased.

"He was under extreme provocation, if not acting entirely in self-defence."

Sentencing him, Judge Frank Chapman said: "We all have to be tolerant of things our neighbours do and try to rub along together without resorting to violence.

"You admitted that you deliberately stared at Robert Breakwell to psyche him out - I don't know why you did that.

"It is clear to me that Robert Breakwell was goaded by you and your family to react in an aggressive way, so that he armed himself.

"He met you and I am driven to the conclusion that he struck you first, across the shoulder with the pickaxe handle. When he attacked you, you lost your self-control and over-reacted to what he had done.