The man caught on CCTV stealing bouquets of flowers from Jack Essex’ memorial outside Via on Canal Street in February has been given an eight week community order and made to pay court costs of £245.
Appearing in at Manchester Magistrates Court on 31st March, Riyad Hantouli, 37 of Whitworth Street, who appeared to smirk during the hearing, was also ordered to pay Jack’s partner, Tony Cooper compensation of £100. Mr Cooper told Manchester Evening News that the money would be added to a fund recently set up in Jack’s memory, to benefit the ‘Village Angels’ – an LGF charity.
Hantouli was spotted on CCTV rifling through the tributes just days after Jack’s funeral. Mr Cooper only found the footage after realising some of the flowers had gone missing and checked the 7th February footage.
Mr Cooper read out a victim impact statement to the court room. He said, “These flowers were left outside our home and the place that Jack loved. They were placed respectfully out of the way. This man came along and not only stole these tributes, but he tossed them aside as if they meant nothing.”
Speaking for the prosecution, Robin Lynch told Chairman of the Bench, Mr Steven Oakley: “He (Hantouli) got into a private hire taxi and told the driver that the flowers were from his brother’s funeral. And he was crying whilst he was talking to the taxi driver.”
The court also heard how Hantouli had still not been granted British citizenship, 13 years after applying after suffering persecution in his home country, Palestine. Defending, Harry Boodhoo told the courtroom “He had gone out drinking after he had been prescribed strong pain killers. It was a foolish and stupid act and clearly it’s had a devastating effect on the family of the deceased.”