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Teenagers sentenced for damaging wreaths at Rochdale cenotaph while using antisemitic language

|News, Hate crime

Two teenagers have been sentenced for damaging poppy wreaths at Rochdale cenotaph while using antisemitic language.

The two 17-year-olds approached the war memorial around 12pm on Monday 6 November and began damaging the wreaths while shouting hateful antisemitic language. They filmed themselves during the incident and later uploaded the video to social media.

A man who had laid one of the wreaths to remember those captured or killed during the Second World War said: “The damage caused by the youths was disgusting and deliberate. This is a disrespectful act for the people of Rochdale, the veterans, and the people of the parachuting regiment association.”

A community impact statement by the Community Security Trust, who work closely with the British Jewish community, was before the court so the full extent of the harm could be understood.

The teenagers both admitted causing the damage and using antisemitic language when spoken to by police and pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates' Court on 20 November 2023. They claimed they had become angry after seeing a video of a man removing Palestinian flags from the Cenotaph on social media.

Both were sentenced at Manchester Magistrates' Court to 10-month referral orders, which included a two-month uplift due to the hate element. They were also ordered to pay compensation of £25 each and a contribution to the costs of the case of £25 each.

Matthew Siddall, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: “This was a profoundly disrespectful act – Rochdale Cenotaph is an important symbol to the community and commemorates those who gave their lives to protect our cherished freedoms.

“By desecrating two poppy wreaths while spouting antisemitic language, the teenagers showed not only their contempt for the people of Rochdale, but also their hateful attitude toward the Jewish community.

“Hate has no place in our society and we are committed to prosecuting those who use hateful language.”

Notes to editors

  • Community Security Trust (CST) is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats.
  • The teenagers were charged with racially aggravated criminal damage.

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