A mother who evicted an aggressive tenant from her home appeared in court yesterday to plead "I'm no Hoogstraten."

Architect Deborah Dalton agreed to rent out a room at her home in Hove to a man she met through work.

Things went smoothly at first but after six months he turned into the tenant from hell.

She said: "He was always strange in his behaviour but I thought he was quite harmless.

"We agreed he could move in on a trial basis but he became more and more difficult. He kept saying he was going to leave but became increasingly aggressive."

Worried for her own safety and that of her six-year-old son, Ms Dalton packed up her tenant's belongings and took them round to his mother's.

He complained to Brighton and Hove City Council who, nine months later, told Ms Dalton they were prosecuting her for illegal eviction.

Ms Dalton, of Goldstone Villas, said: "I got a court summons two weeks before Christmas. It totally ruined Christmas."

At Brighton Magistrates Court yesterday, the city council backed down, withdrew the summons and Ms Dalton agreed to be bound over.

She has agreed not to cause any future tenant to be removed from her home without a court order. The court ordered her costs be paid out of central funds.

Outside court she expressed relief the prosecution had been dropped.

She said: "I hope this will help women in similar situations. I understand this is the first time a bind-over has been made in an eviction case.

"The law is there to protect people from landlords behaving badly but you have Hoogstraten at one end of the scale and people like me at the other.

"I realise an eviction law has to be there to protect people from evil landlords but I'm certainly not one of those.

"I did this for my own and my son's protection - I was not trying to flout the law.

"I think anyone would have done the same in my position. He was my first tenant and will certainly be my last."