Christian street preacher who allegedly told gay couple they would 'burn in hell' in High Street rant is cleared of wrongdoing
- Michael Overd's lawyers said he was quoting from the bible's 1 Corinthians
Last updated at 6:25 PM on 10th February 2012
Michael Overd was accused of using threatening or abusive language as he preached last July
A Christian street preacher was yesterday cleared of harassing a gay couple - after telling them homosexuals would 'burn in hell'.
Religious Michael Overd, 47, was accused of using threatening or abusive language against Craig Manning and Craig Nichol as he preached last July.
A court heard that he approached the pair in busy Taunton High Street, Somerset, calling them ‘sinners’ and proclaiming they would ‘burn in hell’.
But Overd claimed he was merely exercising his right to expression by reading from the bible and was acquitted of the charge by Taunton Deane Magistrates yesterday.
Dean Lampard, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), speaking after the verdict, said: 'We take allegations of this nature very seriously and when we reviewed the case we determined it was appropriate to charge Mr Overd with harassment.
'We examined the evidence and were satisfied that there was a realistic prospect of conviction and that it was in the public interest to bring criminal proceedings.
'We respect the magistrates’ decision today.
'Everyone has the right to live their life free from harassment and distress and we will continue to work closely with Avon and Somerset Constabulary to investigate any allegations of hate crime of any sort, be it homophobic, racist, religious or disability hate crime.'
Taunton town centre where the two men claim they were intimidated by preacher Michael Overd in July last year
Overd, of Creech St Michael in Somerset, was charged last September in relation to alleged homophobic hate crime against a gay couple in Taunton.
Overd's lawyers claimed his client was merely reciting a passage from 1 Corinthians
The court heard claims the lay preacher was provoked by a previous altercation with Mr Nichol and Mr Manning in October 2010, when he saw them holding hands.
Mr Nichol, giving evidence at the two-day trial, said as soon as Overd saw them from around 10 metres away on July 16 last year 'the expression on his face changed'.
He said: 'He said ‘I have already told these two sinners over here that they are going to burn in hell’.
'He looked at us and pointed at us when he said it. His voice was quite loud and very clear. I felt angry, embarrassed and ashamed.
'I asked him who he was to judge me and he said ‘it’s God’s words, it is in the bible’.
'He said I should repent and ask God for forgiveness.'
Paul Diamond, representing Overd, claimed his client was merely reciting a passage from 1 Corinthians.
The passage reads: 'Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.'
Headlines Newsview all
Amanda Holden at the centre of Twitter backlash as she sends daughter to school dressed as Pretty Woman prostitute for fancy dress day
A parenting group has slammed TV star Amanda Holden for posting a picture of her nine-year-old daughter 'dressed as a prostitute' online.The Britain's Got Talent ... Full story
Grandmother filmed confronting militants and branding them 'devils' before quoting verses in the Koran that forbid slaughter
An incredible video has emerged showing the moment an elderly woman bravely confronted two Islamic State militants, telling them their terror group is cursed and ... Full story
Jobseeker shocked to be sent rudest rejection email ever calling him an 'old, aesthetically challenged professional pr*** with no teeth'
A jobseeker was shocked after he was branded as 'irritating', 'rude' and 'obnoxious' in a cutting email accidentally sent to him by a prospective employer.James ... Full story
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
Facebook wrong to hand over details of users to U.S. spies, European court rules following Snowden mass surveillance revelations
European Court of Justice dealt blow to Facebook in privacy rulingDecided that company must be investigated over alleged abuseFacebook's Irish subsidiary funnels data to U.S., ...
Fears BBC staff may have been placing bets on winner of this year's GBBOLadbrokes said 42 betting accounts opened recently are linked to workers'In the ...
Victoria Pollard, 40, was treated 'like a daughter' by Elaine PollardBut she stole from her account and has been jailed for 20 monthsPollard also stole ...
A mother has been left heartbroken after a bank glitch stopped donations Sonia Moon has been a sole carer of her son born with a ...
An out-of-control bushfire destroyed one home and threatens 190 others Emergency warnings have been issued for nine towns across VictoriaBlaze initially started as a controlled burn ...
Grandfather was made to wait for treats which staff said were 'too hot'He spoke to a manager about the issue and says they were rude ...
Supermarkets are braced for hundreds of thousands of metal baskets being stolen as the 5p plastic bag tax bites
A leading supermarket ordered more than 60,000 extra baskets after theftsWales and Scotland had issues with stolen baskets when levy introducedTesco store in Denbighshire, Wales, ...
Police are searching for a gunman after a shooting outside a Red RoosterThe incident happened on the corner of Bonney Ave and Sandgate RdA victim ...
Man accused of stabbing real estate agent Vissa Esan to death after an argument told police he ‘wanted to cut his head off’
Man accused of 2014 stabbing told police he 'wanted to cut his head off'Adam Brewer pleaded not guilty to murder of real estate agent Vissa ...
Official Twitter account in search for missing Madeleine McCann shut downIt comes after @findmadeleine account blocked Ben Needham campaignMadeleine and Ben both remain missing after ...