A man who vandalized the Manchester Arena memorial in a “bizarre act” has been released in court.
Anwar Hosseni, 24, caused £10,786 worth of damage to The Glade Of Light, a white marble ‘halo’ bearing the names of all 22 people killed in the May 2017 attack.
Hosseni scratched white lines across various parts of the monument with a crystal Buddhist head figure in the early hours of February 9.
CCTV footage showed him praying and dancing at the city-centre site, which had opened to the public just weeks earlier.
Hosseni, of Twillbrook Drive, Salford, was arrested at his home address and told police his intention was to give “love, unity, honor and gratitude to the souls of those who died”.
Manchester Crown Court heard the accused had a “substantial psychiatric history”, including periods of imprisonment under the Mental Health Act, one of which dates after the offence.
Gwen Henshaw, defending herself, said: “When he was interviewed he admitted the memorial is not his property, he had no right to damage it.
“He now understands very well that what he did was wrong and hurtful to many, including the families of the victims.
“He is ashamed to know that he has caused them pain and suffering because he takes pride in helping people. He’s sorry for the pain he caused.”
Hosseni, who works as an actor and model “when he can,” pleaded guilty to criminal damage charges at a previous hearing. He has no criminal record.
Excerpts from several personal testimonies from victims’ families of Arena victims were read in court.
One statement read: “To know that someone has done such harm in such a callous, mean and senseless way breaks our hearts again,” while another said: “We have comfort in visiting the memorial and learning that it desecrates.” is incredible . How can anyone sink so low?”
Handing over a two-year community will, Justice Nicholas Dean QC, Manchester’s honorary clerk, told Hosseni: “The memorial is valuable to the people of Manchester but is particularly valuable to the families of the 22 who died.
“Your actions were bizarre. What you did was significant and widespread damage and of course that was interpreted as sacrilege by the victims’ families and friends by desecrating the memories of those involved.
“No doubt they would have thought there was some political motive… I’m convinced there isn’t. They were motivated by a bizarre thought process. You thought you were somehow honoring the dead.
“If this had been a malicious political act, you would face a long prison sentence.
“I accept what the doctors are saying and what you are saying as you had no ill will towards the deceased or their families and friends. On the contrary, although the way you put it is beyond anyone’s grasp.”
Hosseni also received a two-year criminal conduct warrant allowing him to visit the immediate area around The Glade Of Light.
Last month, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the official opening of the memorial ahead of the fifth anniversary of the attack by suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
The tribute is designed as a living monument – a peaceful garden space of remembrance and reflection, featuring plants that grow naturally in the British countryside and have been chosen to provide color throughout the year and to reflect the changing seasons.
Every year around the anniversary, on May 22nd, the white flowers of a hawthorn tree planted in its center will bloom.