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Street preacher cleared of abuse charge

By Donald Wilson

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Cleared - evangelist Kenneth Macdonald.
Cleared - evangelist Kenneth Macdonald.

AN Inverness evangelist has been cleared of behaving in an abusive manner as he tried to spread the gospel in the city centre.

Kenneth Macdonald (65), of Lochiel Road, was accused of making offensive remarks to stallholders and passers by and warning them that they would "burn in hell" if they did not turn to God.

But Sheriff Ian Abercrombie upheld a plea by Macdonald’s solicitor Marc Dickson, after evidence was led by three witnesses for the prosecution that his client had no case to answer, and acquitted him.

Falconer Tommy Horne (63), who has a stall with birds of prey from his rescue centre at Croy, told the court he saw a young woman with two young children being approached by Macdonald who was passing out leaflets and preaching through a microphone and PA system.

"She said she was a Catholic and said ‘no thanks’. He told her she would go to hell and he told the children the same," said Mr Horne.

He approached Macdonald and told him it was wrong to say things like that to people.

Mr Horne said he went back to his stall, but claimed similar incidents had happened before to different people. He said the woman was quite upset.

Marc Dickson, solicitor for Macdonald, said: "If I were to suggest you didn’t tell police anything about this man (Macdonald) telling the woman she was ‘going to hell’ what would you say to that?"

"I did," replied Mr Horne.

The solicitor also suggested Horne was the subject of a complaint to the police the same day for his behaviour towards Macdonald.

But Mr Horne claimed he only went up to tell him he was not happy about the way he had spoken to the woman, and he definitely told police about it.

Kim Avis ((47) who runs a jewellery stall in the High Street said ‘Kenny’ was a ‘well meaning’ man preaching to bring religion into people’s lives.

He told the court they often had discussions about religion and got on well, but added Catholics and Moslems could be offended by Macdonald’s preaching.

Mr Avis added: "It’s very loud a lot of the time and some people can be offended.

"I don’t want to paint him as a bad man. He’s trying to do a good thing. Some people have been offended."

PC Claire Hughes (20) said following complaints from the public about Macdonald’s preaching, she and a colleague spoke to him.

She said her colleague had a word with him and that was the end of the matter.

With the prosecution evidence concluded Mr Dickson made a plea that his client had no case to answer, and Sheriff Ian Abercrombie agreed.

Macdonald denied behaving in a threatening or abusive manner in Inverness High Street between January 8 and March 26 last year, on several occasions uttering offensive remarks, approaching stallholders and passers-by telling them they would burn in hell, to their annoyance and alarm.

The sheriff said there was no corroborative evidence that he said what had been alleged to the woman.

"If he was saying anything like burn in hell to women and young children I would have no hesitation in supporting a Crown case but there is no such evidence," he said.

After the case Macdonald said he found it offensive that a Christian had been taken to court for proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ.

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