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
A MUSLIM hate preacher who was allowed to tour British mosques and spread the message of jihad may have planted the idea of the London ... Full story
Figures produced by the Department of Health show that, since 2007-8, the UK has paid £6.18billion in health costs for British citizens in Europe – ... Full story
ISLAMIC State has issued a chilling video warning that London is next to be hit by a terror attack at least as deadly as the ... Full story
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
- Chilling moment woman is followed into off-licence before being lured into woods and raped
- Battered into a coma for complaining about dog barking at night: Thug jailed for LIFE
- 27 stone obese mum books CRUISE then asks YOU to fund £10k operation to lose weight
Akon Guode, 36, is charged with killing her three children near MelbourneMother of seven allegedly drove car into a Wyndham Vale lake in April ...
A survey was taken of 1000 directors in the wake of last week's referendumA third say recruitment will continue as normal after the leave voteBut ...
Jenny, 5, guides her blind father to work everyday in the Philippines Her father, Nelson Pepe, works on a coconut farm in Southern LeyteA video of Jenny ...
Spain held general election after no government was formed in DecemberPolitical deadlock looks likely to continue no party won overall majorityParties must form a coalition ...
Brexit will make Britain great again, insists Trump as he forecasts break-up of the EU and warns that Europe will be 'unrecognisable' without migration curbs
Donald Trump discussed Brexit vote during visit to his Scottish golf courseHe said he thought it would lead to the break up of the European ...
Labour exodus continues as three MORE shadow ministers quit in protest at Corbyn's leadership - bringing total to 14 as deputy leader 'is set to tell him to resign'
Diana Johnson, Anna Turley and Toby Perkins all quit frontbench today Total number of resignations now at 14 in protest at Corbyn's leadershipCorbyn's allies insist he is ...
New Zealand child Moko Rangitoheriri's killers, Tania Shailer and David William Haerewa jailed for 17 years each
Tania Shailer, 26, and David William Haerewa, 43 sentenced to 17 years' jailThey had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Moko Rangitoheriri, three He died after ...
George Osborne sets out how Government will move forward after Brexit Chancellor won't quit but stands by his claims Brexit would cause chaosHe said: 'We ...
Bhumi Patel has finished her first year of medical school and is part of a program at the School of Public Health and Tropical MedicineShe traveled ...
Tony Windsor says his wife is 'deeply upset' over Nationals attack adWindsor is in a tight race against deputy prime minister Barnaby JoyceNew ad 'infers ...