A media scrum accompanied by accordion gospel music greeted Pastor James McConnell as he arrived for the last day of his trial in Belfast this morning.
He is facing charges in connection with a controversial sermon he gave about Islam made from the pulpit of his Whitewell Tabernacle in north Belfast last May.
Mr McConnell, 78, from Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, is being prosecuted at Belfast Magistrates’ Court under the 2003 Communications Act.
As he arrived for what is expected to be the third day and final day of his trial today, supporters welcomed him with gospel singing and a huge banner.
At least three members of other denominations were present to lend him moral support while a scrum of photographers and cameramen shadowed him from a car to the gates of the court.
Yesterday District Judge Liam McNally said he was not convinced by defence arguments that there were no circumstances under which the preacher could be convicted.
The judge said: “I reject the defence application and I hold that Pastor McConnell does have a case to answer in relation to the charges against him.”
The application to halt proceedings was made on the second day of the high-profile trial.
McConnell is facing two charges - improper use of a public electronic communications network and causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network - after the remarks were streamed online. He denies both charges.