A FORMER security guard at the Merrywalks Shopping Centre is one of two men charged in connection with an attempt to set fire to a mosque in Gloucester, the SNJ can reveal.

Clive Michael Ceronne, aged 37, worked at the shopping mall in Stroud back in 2007.

Ceronne, of Redwood Close, Gloucester, and another man, Ashley Juggins, aged 20, of Brooklyn Road, Cheltenham have both been charged with conspiracy to commit arson after a door to the Masjid-E-Noor mosque was set alight in the early hours of last Tuesday, June 18.

The pair, who were both remanded in custody after appearing before magistrates in Cheltenham on Thursday, are next due at Gloucester Crown Court on July 19.

During his time at Merrywalks, Ceronne witnessed the suicide of a 60-year-old woman, who died in December 2007 after jumping 60ft from the top of the centre's multi-story car park.

He later gave evidence at the inquest into her death in September 2008.Gloucestershire police, who have described the mosque attack as a ‘hate crime’, say CCTV footage shows a man pouring petrol around the door of the building before igniting it using a lit rag.

A good Samaritan, believed to be a Polish taxi driver, is reported to have leapt from his car with a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze at the place of worship, which only a few days earlier had staged an open day to improve community relations following the murder of Lee Rigby.

Since the young soldier’s killing in Woolwich last month, several mosques have been targeted in a spate of revenge attacks by suspected far-right extremist groups.

On Monday, a suspect package found outside a mosque in Walsall turned out to be a small home-made explosive device.

Last week, a dozen anti-racism activists from Stroud travelled to Gloucester to show their support for the city’s Muslim community.

They handed out leaflets in Barton Street on Friday bearing a message of solidarity from the leader of the Unite trade union Len McCluskey.

"We basically wanted to make the argument that we won’t let racism divide our communities," said anti-fascist campaigner James Beecher.

Last month, a 26-year-old man from Nailsworth was arrested and cautioned for making racist remarks on his Facebook page in the wake of Drummer Rigby's death.