A TEENAGER will appear in court charged with criminal damage in relation to the Rochford Christmas tree being cut down just before the switch on of the Christmas lights.

The 15-year-old boy from Rochford was arrested on Tuesday (December 1) following the felling of the tree in Rochford Market Square over the weekend.

Nearby residents heard a commotion at 3am on Sunday and looked out to see teenagers with a bow saw chopping the tree about 4ft up from its base before running off.

However, the vandalism failed to prevent the lights switch on from taking place as the district council put out a Facebook appeal which led to a forester coming forward to help restore the remainder of the tree by placing it in an upright position and adding the lights.

This work was completed by 11am on Sunday, well in time for the light switch on five hours later.

The teenager was arrested and taken to Rayleigh police station for questioning before being charged with the offence.

He has been bailed to appear before Southend Youth Court on Thursday December 17.