Teenagers handed referral orders for criminal damage after vandalising Rochdale Cenotaph

The trio desecrated a war memorial with the words "Free Palestine" in November 2023. Credit: MEN Media

Three teenagers have been sentenced after desecrating a war memorial with the words "Free Palestine".

Adeem Ahmed and Amaan Tariq, both 18, and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, used spray paint to vandalise the Rochdale Cenotaph on 7 November 2023.

The incident took place just a day after a separate incident occurred where two other teenagers damaged poppy wreaths while shouting antisemitic language.

As a result of the incidents police guarded the memorial ahead of Remembrance Day.

The Rochdale Cenotaph was vandalised with the words "Free Palestine" in November last year.

Ahmed, of Queensway, Rochdale, Tariq, of Convent Grove, Rochdale, and the 17-year-old were given six-month referral orders, a community-based sentence which is overseen by a youth offender panel.

All three pleaded guilty to criminal damage at Manchester Magistrates Court in November 2023.

However, the trio were due to face trial in April this year after each denied the damage was racially aggravated.

The Crown Prosecution Service later discontinued the trial “on evidential grounds” and they were sentenced to the referral orders and told to pay £140 in compensation, £85 court costs and a £26 victim surcharge.

Tariq and the youth also pleaded guilty to the theft of spray cans and paint brushes from B&M Bargains in Rochdale.

Adeem Ahmed and Amaan Tariq, both 18, and the 17-year-old, were handed sentences for criminal damage.

The Rochdale Cenotaph was vandalised on two separate occasions last year before Remembrance Day. Credit: ITV News

When District Judge Joanne Hirst fixed the trial date, she told the teenagers: “You have pleaded guilty to a very serious offence.

“Desecration of a cenotaph is not a normal case of criminal damage. War memorials are generally expected to be treated with respect.

“You might be interested to know that more than five-and-a-half million Muslims died in the Second World War fighting for freedom.

“Be under no illusion that the sentence will be serious because of the serious nature of the desecration of cenotaphs.”

In January 2024 – in a separate case – two 17-year-old males were sentenced to 10-month referral orders over the damage to the memorial wreaths on 6 November.

The pair filmed themselves during the incident and later uploaded the video to social media.

They claimed they had become angry after seeing a video online of a man removing Palestinian flags from the cenotaph.