A SHERIFF yesterday ordered a warrant for the arrest of a stalker who hounded a top executive and his family out of Scotland.

Stephen McDougall was due to appear for sentencing at Dumbarton Sheriff Court - but failed to appear.

It was also revealed he had failed to turn up a second time for an appointment to allow a psychiatric assessment.

Sheriff John Fitzsimons declared that McDougall had sent the court a fax ``saying he had decided not to show up''.

He added: ``I warned him on his last appearance that it was a condition of his bail that he had to appear today.

``He is certainly not going to manipulate this court and I grant a warrant for his arrest.''

McDougall's solicitor, Mr Roddy McLennan, stated: ``I also received a fax from him to say he was not going to appear. I wrote back to him, explaining in no uncertain terms it would not be a good idea.''

McDougall, 42, targeted Kevin and Samantha Ayre after they had bought his former home, which had been repossessed by a bank when his business failed.

He was found guilty of breach of the peace by repeatedly harassing them, making or causing inquiries to be made into Mr Ayre's private affairs, attempting to bribe a postman to give him details of where they lived, and hiring a private detective to spy on them.

The couple, both 35, told how McDougall had wrecked their lives after they bought the cottage in Milngavie, near Glasgow, which had been seized from him by the TSB bank.

McDougall pestered them for two years and Mrs Ayre said: ``We felt we were being stalked from afar.''

She told how the menace of McDougall had forced them to move twice and that they were finally driven out of Scotland to live in the south of England.

Mr Ayre also had to give up his job as a manpower services director with whisky group, Allied Distillers in Dumbarton.

The trial was told that the Ayres had bought the house for #90,000 - a year after McDougall had put it on the market for #125,000.

McDougall, from Sinclair Avenue, Bearsden, insisted that he had no personal grudge against the family because they had bought the house so cheaply.