A street preacher who ranted at shoppers about the “evils” of homosexuality has escaped charges.

Paul Shaw, 62, of Duffield Drive, Colchester, was arrested on February 19th outside the town’s Debenhams store after complaints about his behaviour.

The Colchester Gazette reports that he appeared at Colchester magistrates’ court charged with using threatening words or behaviour, which he denied.

District judge David Cooper told him: “You said you were spreading God’s word and when interviewed you said children needed to be protected and basically, homosexuals and lesbians should repent and ask for God’s forgiveness.”

Mr Shaw claimed that there would be “terrible consequences” if homosexuality was not made illegal again soon and warned that God’s judgment was “not very far away”.

He refused to be bound over to keep the peace, which is a criminal conviction.

Instead, he said: “In four years, I’ve only dealt with homosexuality about twice. I have to act in good conscience, I’m afraid, and I think [homosexuality] is a particularly significant thing for this nation at this time.”

The case was dismissed as the prosecution could offer no written evidence from complainants and Mr Shaw argued his right to free speech.

Mr Cooper warned him that further complaints could land him back in court and said: “There are other sorts of ‘sins’. Do you think you could concentrate on those for a bit?”