A MAN has appeared in court accused of robbing a building society of thousands of pounds while armed with a screwdriver.

Bruce Chipunza has been charged with a robbery at the Saffron Building Society in Culver Street West, Colchester, on July 1.

He denies the accusation.

It is alleged he took a sum of £5,000 from two members of staff at the town centre site.

He is also accused of possession of an offensive weapon - namely a red and blank handled screwdriver which was roughly ten inches in length - on the same day.

The Zimbabwean national was arrested the day after the robbery took place.

He was remanded in custody following a hearing at Colchester Magistrates’ Court last month.

And during a short hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court, on Friday Chipunza, 30, denied both charges against him.

Judge Charles Gratwicke scheduled a trial to place before the end of the year at the same court.

Judge Gratwicke remanded him in custody until then after being assured he had received a warning over credit for pleas and the importance of supplying a thorough defence case statement.

“You are going into a warned list for December 9 of this year,” he said.

“Until then you are remanded in custody.”

Police rushed to the scene after the incident was reported and stopped anyone from entering the building society which recently celebrated being open in Colchester for 40 years.

No-one was hurt in the incident but the building society was shut the next day while police launched their investigation.

In the wake of the incident, a spokesman confirmed staff were being given specialist support.

He said: “A robbery took place at our Colchester branch on July 1.

“Fortunately no-one was injured and branch staff are being supported by our HR team following this incident.”