Michael Overd (53) and Michael Stockwell (51), were found guilty of religiously-aggravated public order offences in February 2017. The men were filmed in Broadmead Shopping centre, Bristol proclaiming statements such as being gay is ‘immoral.’ Both men maintained they were merely reading from the King James Bible and denied intending to provoke other faiths or sexualities.
At Bristol Crown Court the judges said Mr Stockwell “did no more than express his no doubt sincerely held religious beliefs.” In addition, the court ruled that Mr Overd seemed to take satisfaction in “working the crowd” but had not committed a public order offence.
In July 2016 the men preached about matters that are in opposition to their biblical beliefs. A hostile crowd grew to up to a hundred people, who began chanting “go home!” The men were arrested, charged and fined £300, a £30 victim surcharge and prosecution costs of £3372 in total.
However, their appeal was successful as the judge admitted that he is “conscious of the right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.” The two men’s convictions were overturned. Mr Overd claimed that he would be back on the streets to preach and that as a Christian soldier, he rejoiced in the prosecution.
Author: Damilola Bolaji
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