A SOLDIER has denied criminal damage and theft charges relating to an incident at a mosque in Chelmsford city centre.

Liam King, of Eastwood Park, Great Baddow, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday where he pleaded not guilty.

The 22-year-old is accused of damaging the main entrance to the Jamiah mosque in Moulsham Street during the early hours of November 24 last year.

When members arrived for prayers at 7am, they were unable to enter the building as the lock had been broken.

King is also accused of stealing a copy of the Qu’ran, the holy book for the Islamic faith, from inside the mosque.

Wearing a black suit with a grey shirt and black tie, King spoke only to confirm his personal details and plea before requesting to have a crown court trial.

Proceedings have now been adjourned until June 30 when the defendant is due to appear at Chelmsford Crown Court.