A SELF-STYLED preacher who assailed shoppers with homophobic rants has been released from court without charge.

Paul Shaw, of Duffield Drive, Colchester, was arrested after complaints about his preachings on the “evil of homosexuality” outside Debenhams’ Colchester store.

He appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court yesterday, charged with using threatening words or behaviour. Mr Shaw denied the charge, insisting there had been nothing wrong with his conduct on February 19.

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, 62, told the court: “My reasons were twofold.

“Firstly, there is a consequence for the country and society if society does not appreciate the difference between right and wrong, particularly noticeable by homosexuality.

“As a nation, we are coming under God’s judgment not very far away in the future and there will be terrible consequences for this if it is not made unlawful again.

“Secondly, on a personal level, as with all other sins, it needs to be repented of in order to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Mr Cooper initially suggested Shaw might agree to be bound over to keep the peace in future. This would have counted as a criminal conviction.

However, Mr Shaw refused explaining: “I’ve preached regularly for about three or four years without incident.

“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 prosecution offered no evidence, saying without written statements from the complainants and with Mr Shaw insisting on his right to free speech, they could not proceed.

Mr Cooper dismissed the case, but warned any future complaints might land Mr Shaw back in court, facing a sentence.

He asked: “There are other sorts of ‘sins’. Do you think you could concentrate on those for a bit?”