A street preacher has appeared in court in Somerset on charges of verbally abusing a gay couple.

Michael Overd, 47, from Creech St Michael in Somerset, allegedly told Craig Manning and Craig Nichol that they were “evil” and would “burn in hell”.

The defence reportedly claims Overd, of Creech St Michael in Somerset, was exercising freedom of expression, reading from the Bible as they passed.

The court has heard that the preacher had previously singled the gay couple out when he saw them holding hands in 2010.

According to the Press Association, Mr Nichol 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.

“It was a really busy day and I felt that everyone was looking at us when he was saying these things to us.

“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.”

The defence said Mr Overd was reading 1 Corinthians, which says: “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.”

The defence also asked Mr Nichol why he did not cross the road to avoid Mr Overd as he walked through Taunton last summer.

The trial continues.