A man with mental health problems racially assaulted Muslim worshippers and attempted to set fire to a mosque, a magistrates court heard.

Damian Royston Smith, 30, of Lambourne Gardens, Essex, harassed worshippers at the Tooting Islamic Centre, in Upper Tooting Road, over five days.

Wimbledon Magistrates Court heard Smith converted to Islam seven years ago but lost contact with the Imam Suliman Gani.

On November 15 last year Iftikhar Hussain, a volunteer security worker at the mosque, said he saw Smith watching children going to evening classes.

Mr Hussain asked him to leave, but he began shouting racist abuse outside the prayer room and the mosque.

He went on to charge into the mosque doors with a whisky bottle.

The next day Smith barged Vase Siddiqi and shouted racist abuse at him outside the mosque, but Mr Siddiqi was told the imam was dealing with the situation.

Later on in the day he saw him lying down outside the mosque and decided to report the assault to the police.

Two days afterwards two policemen arrested Smith for trying to set fire to the mosque with a plastic bag filled with tomato tin cans and matches.

He said he had been sleeping rough for the past few days and wanted to be arrested so he had somewhere to sleep.

Prosecuting, Mrs Trudy Scott said: "It all happened in a short space of time because he was having issues with the mosque.

"The imam said he had converted to Islam seven years ago and lost contact, he had lost his mother and was going through a difficult time."

Judge Mrs Otomosho remanded Smith in custody for three weeks for a mental health report to be prepared.

He will next appear at Wimbledon Magistrates on February 8.