THE former headteacher of a Wickford school has this afternoon denied nine sex offences.

Daniel Chapman, 31, the former principal of Hilltop Infant School, appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court via video link from a prison in Norwich.

Chapman showed little emotion during the hearing, dressed in jeans and a white polo shirt, as he entered not guilty pleas to everything he was charged with.

Two of the charges relate to incidents on August 8 last year, namely making an indecent photograph - one in category B and category A, the most serious - of a child.

The third charge is creating a category C indecent image on January 27 this year.

The fourth charge of publishing an obscene article relates to an alleged conversation he had on the messenger app Kik.

The five other charges relate to discoveries made on a laptop computer on May 20, including making 15 category C and one category A and B indecent images, possessing a harmful and grossly offensive image of two children committing a sexual act, and possessing extreme animal pornography.

In a letter previously sent to parents by Hilltop Infant School, it was stated the charges do not relate to any pupils there.

Chapman was suspended from his position as soon as the allegations came to light. The statement said: “The safety and wellbeing of pupils is of paramount importance and we take our safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously. There is no suggestion that at any time our pupils were unsafe.

Chapman, of Meadgate Avenue, Chelmsford, will next appear for a further case management hearing on August 26, with a trial, expected to last five days, due to take place at a later date.

Addressing Chapman in court, Judge Christopher Morgan said: “You need to co-operate with the solicitors in preparing your defence case statement as the court will expect as much details as possible about your activities.

“Your trial date will be set in due course, and I should state that if you fail to turn up to the hearing, it may take place in your absence. If you fail to provide an adequate defence statement it will count against you.”