A street preacher accused of verbally assaulting two gay men by telling them they would ‘burn in Hell’, has been cleared by a magistrates court, after telling the bench he was quoting from the Bible.
Michael Overd, 47, an evangelical, was accused of verbally abusing Craig Nichol and his partner Craig Manning, as they walked down Taunton high street hand in hand.
The couple claimed he singled them out and told them they would "burn in hell," as they walked past him.
But magistrates today cleared the former paratrooper of two charges of using threatening words or behaviour against the couple. The court heard that the pair had threatened him with violence.
Speaking outside the court, Mr Overd said: "This is a case that should never have been brought. Christians like me are being harassed," he said.
"Thankfully, the magistrates saw the truth of what happened and is happening on a wider scale in out country.
"Something has to change and I hope my case will encourage others not to be scared to speak up for Christ."
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service 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.”
Mr Nichol and Mr Manning said they felt let down, and would appeal the decision.
February 10th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross