A religious activist from Northamptonshire has been given a Criminal Behaviour Order preventing him from distributing offensive leaflets.
The ban stops him distributing information about religious, sexual or reproductive topics to any residential, commercial or academic address and door-knocking for the next five years.
Damon Jonah Kelly had been distributing leaflets dressed in a monk’s robe in a variety of different locations including the East Midlands, Brighton, Cambridgeshire and the West Midlands since 2012.
The leaflets expressed his views denouncing a number of groups and communities, including faiths different to his own, divorcees and people using assisted childbirth, but principally targeting the gay community.
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said; “Many people who read his leaflets were upset and offended by them, and reported his activities to the police. The leaflets were described by witnesses as ‘vile’, ‘offensive’ and ‘upsetting’.
“In October 2014, Kelly delivered a leaflet expressing his views about homosexuality to the home of a same-sex couple, who remonstrated with him about the leaflet and its content.
“He returned to the address two weeks later with a letter addressed to them, again expressing his views. He was arrested and charged with harassment without violence for targeting this couple. He pleaded guilty at Leicester Magistrates Court in June.
“He was today sentenced to a 12-month community order, requiring him to do 170 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge.
“The unpaid work was increased from 140 hours because his offending was homophobically aggravated and, therefore, treated as a hate crime. The Court also imposed a Criminal Behaviour Order, allowing Kelly to hold and express his views, but not so as to invade the privacy of others,” the spokesman added.
Lisa Morris, senior district Crown prosecutor at CPS East Midlands, said: “Damon Kelly has caused offence when distributing his leaflets. The right of free speech is extremely important in our society, but when this crosses the line into harassment, it is important that the public is protected.
“This Criminal Behaviour Order is necessary to balance Damon Kelly’s right to free speech with the need to protect the public from further such conduct. It is important that communities are aware that he has been banned by the courts from these activities.
“Anyone who thinks they have seen Damon Kelly breaching this Criminal Behaviour Order should contact their local police force and report it.”