A CHRISTIAN street preacher appeared in court this morning, (Wednesday, March 11) for the start of a trial after complaints were made last summer about what he said.

Michael Overd of Arundell’s Way, Creech St Michael, is charged with three counts of religious aggravation of the Public Order Act, with threatening or abusive behaviour.

Somerset County Gazette:

Taunton Magistrates’ Court heard how the aggravation offences were alleged to have taken place on June 7 and July 14, 2014.

Prosecuting, Laura Searle told the court how the police received complaints from members of the public about what Mr Overd was preaching on those dates.

Witness Darren Chalmers gave evidence about what he heard on June 7.

He said he could hear Mr Overd talking to two people about homosexuality and how, when he approached him, Mr Overd had called him a sinner for being gay.

He added: “I felt so ashamed by the comments that were made, that I was a sinner and that God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.

“He said I needed to repent my sins.

“I felt belittled. I am a gay Christian and I am accepted by my church and I am accepted for who I am.

“I approached him and said this and then after expressing my views I walked away.

“I didn’t want to be victimised for being an openly gay Christian.”

Defending, Michael Phillips cross-examined the witness and asked him about freedom of speech.

He said: “Freedom of speech entitles someone to say what is offensive to people, would you not agree?”

Mr Chalmers replied that he didn’t want to be victimised by another person for being gay.

Mr Phillips also argued that Mr Overd had been saying that everyone is a sinner and that he was not just saying homosexuals were.

The next witness, Nigel Marley, told the court that he had heard, although he could not recall, some of the comments made by Mr Overd on June 7.

He said: “Many of these comments were homophobic and aimed at the person he was speaking to.

“I am all for free speech but not at the expense of belittlingly someone.”

He added that if it had been a private conversation he would have carried on walking, but because Mr Overd had his microphone switched on, he felt his comments were unacceptable.

He was also cross-examined by Mr Phillips who asked him about freedom of speech and asked if he would have found it acceptable if someone was commending you about homosexuality.

*The trial continues and is due to finish tomorrow, (Thursday, March 12).