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 test flies solar-powered drones over the UK in attempt to increase internet access
- MPs in new expenses row over London homes
- MPs in new expenses row over London homes
A pilotless plane with a wingspan bigger than a Boeing 737 but weighing less than a car has been tested over the UK by Facebook. Founder ...
Almost 50 MPs were accused last night of claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds in expenses for renting and using hotels in London despite owning ...
It wasn’t immediately clear why we had to be at the top of the “UK’s tallest sculpture” the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a fashionable £22m Anish Kapoor ...
Naomi Klein interview: The 'No Logo' author and climate change activist talks compost, Cameron, and the irresistible humour of otters
Was there a particular event that led you to write This Changes Everything? It wasn't one particular event. Unless it was Hurricane Katrina. My last book ...
David Threlfall interview: The actor takes a forensic approach in Code of a Killer as he leaves Shameless's Frank Gallagher behind
Actor David Threlfall, who is not to be confused with actor David Thewlis ("Ask him about Anna Friel," suggested one of my colleagues), doesn't grant ...
Vilnius has been named the cheapest European city break destination, and with the Euro currently weak against the pound, British travellers can get even more ...
This is ground control to Major Tom. Or, actually, more accurately, this is Room 135 to room service. Earlier this week, I had a very quick ...
Everyday is a red-letter day in Margate. Scarlet capitals sloshed on to bashed-in brick proclaim 'DREAMLAND WELCOMES YOU'. This greeting on the side of the ...
All hospitals will provide key services seven days a week by 2020, David Cameron will pledge today, as he goes head-to-head with Labour on Ed ...
Ruth Porat’s move from Morgan Stanley to Google is a coup for the IT crowd, even if her close ties to California via her alma ...