A FINANCE officer will stand trial after denying stealing almost £200,000 from a charity.

Stephen Osborne has denied two counts of fraud relating to his time as a senior finance officer for the Essex charity Vibrance.

It supports adults in London and the South East of England who live with disabilities.

Osborne of Ilfracombe Road, Southend, is accused of stealing £26,761.65 from the charity between September 2014 and August 2015, and then £161,162.48 between August 2016 and July 2017.

It is alleged he transferred the funds from the charity into his own personal bank account.

Osborne, 41, appeared at Basildon Crown Court in a navy suit with a golden-coloured tie and white shirt.

He was unrepresented in court, but indicated that he was seeking to secure legal representation before his next hearing.

He remained calm and co-operative throughout the hearing, and entered not guilty pleas to both charges.

The court was told that Osborne states the money was not stolen.

A trial date has been set for April 14 next year.

Osborne was released on bail until the next hearing.

Addressing him, Judge John Lodge said: “You need to get a defence statement prepared. If you do not, it won’t help you in the trial.

“If you do not attend your trial it will be a separate offence of which you can be punished. It is also possible that if you do not attend it may take place in your absence.

“Get your lawyers on board, they will need your help, and you will need their help to prepare.”

Osborne’s trial will be held at the same court and is expected to last somewhere between two and three days.