Daily Express - - Waging War On Loneliness -

Ms Saffman said: “They were seen kick­ing and pulling out flow­ers from beds. CCTV showed them run­ning around and pulling up plants.

“Fur­ther dam­age was done by bend­ing an army sil­hou­ette sol­dier statue.

“Their iden­ti­ties were con­firmed and they were seen in Rochdale po­lice sta­tion that evening.”

Martin Taylor, head of en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment at Rochdale Coun­cil, said: “I am ap­palled at the dis­re­spect shown to our soldiers.

“Our sil­hou­ettes were in­stalled at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions across the bor­ough to com­mem­o­rate the end of World War One and those who sac­ri­ficed their lives for our free­dom.

“The dis­play was so peo­ple have a place to re­mem­ber their fallen – this ab­hor­rent, mind­less van­dal­ism is sad­den­ing and un­ac­cept­able. It shows noth­ing but dis­re­spect to our vet­er­ans and their friends… it’s shock­ing.

David Fein­gold, de­fend­ing all four of the yobs, said: “They were on a drunken ram­page. They didn’t mean to show dis­re­spect.

“All four ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for the dam­age they caused.

“It was not in­tended but they did stamp on flow­ers. That is what ef­fect drink can have. How­ever, they vol­un­tar­ily fam­ily and went to the po­lice sta­tion and ac­cept the dis­taste­ful event. They are very re­morse­ful.

“They all work and are reg­u­larly en­gaged.

“One of them is study­ing psy­chol­ogy and crim­i­nal be­hav­iour at univer­sity, so this is some­thing for him to think about.”

The court heard that Hall is a courier, Taylor a car­pen­ter, McBurnie works at Ar­gos and Hart is the crim­i­nol­ogy stu­dent.

Hart spoke in court on be­half of the four to apol­o­gise, adding: “We meant no dis­re­spect to the soldiers.

“We just weren’t in the right frame of mind at all.

“We are gen­uinely, sorry.”

In a let­ter to mag­is­trates, Rochdale Coun­cil said of the in­ci­dent: gen­uinely “The sil­hou­ette sol­dier was dam­aged be­yond re­pair in an act of van­dal­ism.

“A tem­po­rary re­pair was made and we are dis­gusted about what hap­pened to it.”

Mag­is­trat­ess or­dered the four to each com­plete 40 hours of un­paid com­mu­nity work, and pay £570 com­pen­sa­tion be­tween them to re­place the items dam­aged.

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