Bizarre CCTV footage showed how vandal Anwar Hosseni appeared to pray in front of the Glade of Light memorial – before damaging it. The 24-year-old received a community order yesterday after a series of scratches were found on the Manchester Arena bombing memorial in the city center in February this year.
On images shared with the Manchester Evening News Hosseni, from Salford, can be seen walking to the side of the memorial, before bending down and scribbling something. He then moves to another section of the memorial, crouching down and scratching something in the marble.
In the four-minute-long video, Hosseni then moves to another section along the memorial that is lit by a streetlight and remains there for an extended period of time. He appears to be praying as he crouchs down, before moving on to another section, he makes an ‘X’ gesture with his arms and continues scratching at the marks.
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Manchester Crown Court learned today (22 June) that the city center-based Glade of Light memorial was due to open in May in honor of the 22 people who were killed in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017. But in February On September 9, a family member of one of the deceased contacted the council and police to inform them that the memorial had been damaged.
Prosecutor Julian Goode said police saw security camera footage from around the area and saw a man nearby at around 2am. “As he walked through the memorial, the police saw what they believed to be a man praying before leaving the site,” he said.
“At 2:47 am footage shows the man returning and at 2:54 am he can be seen bowing with what appears to be an instrument in his hands and scratching something into the names before exiting the scene at 3:09 am.”
Reports were made of the damage caused, the total of which came to a staggering £10,768.80. Hosseni, from Salford, was arrested and questioned the same day, and admitted to causing the damage.
In an interview, he told police he was making the scratches with a crystal ‘Buddhist head figure’, using ‘light language’ to express ‘love, togetherness and gratitude’ to the 22 who sadly died in the attack.
In the victim’s personal testimony, the families of the deceased spoke of the impact that the damage had on them. One said: “When I heard that the memorial was vandalized, I got sick. How could anyone do this? We as a family find it conflicting that the crime caused to the beautiful memorial and the way it was desecrated is unbelievable. How can people be so cruel and reckless to stoop so low?”
Toning down, Gwen Henshaw said Hosseni’s mental illness was linked to the crime. “He said he was honoring the victims by etching marks like ‘light language’ in the expression of love, togetherness and gratitude for lost souls at Manchester Arena,” she said.
“He now recognizes that his actions have caused distress and the families of the victims and the wider Manchester community will be upset and angry. He is very sorry for his actions and will never do something like that again.”
Sentencing, Manchester Registrar Judge Nicholas Dean QC said: “Your actions during that night of February 9th were bizarre. But what you did was cause significant damage. “The damage to this memorial may have been interpreted by relatives and friends of the victims of the bombing as a sacrilegious act as desecration of the names of the victims.
“I have no doubt that they were totally understandable to see this as some sort of political motive, and that for some reason it expressed some support, not for the deceased, but for the bomber himself. I am convinced that this is not the case.
“But you will understand how many people interpreted what you did as desecration in an act of dishonoring the memory of their loved ones.”
Hosseni, of Twillbrook Drive, received a two-year community order, a 12-month mental health treatment program, and 10 days of rehabilitation activities. He was also banned from entering the area around the Glade of Light memorial for two years under the terms of a Criminal Behavior Order.
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