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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Man commits sex act on cenotaph
A man who desecrated a cenotaph in Blackpool on the day marking the 90th anniversary of the start of World War I, has escaped a jail sentence.

Iraqi Harkan Amin, 32, a failed asylum seeker from Oldham, Greater Manchester, admitted outraging public decency by behaving in an indecent manner.

The Royal British Legion and Russian Convoy Association had laid wreaths which were ruined after the sex act.

Amin was unable to pay the 2,000 fine imposed at Blackpool Magistrates Court.

He was ordered to spend one day in prison in lieu of payment, but as he had already been in custody for two weeks he was released immediately on Thursday.

This is beyond imagination how can any one of any race or creed do such a thing
Ian Coleman, Royal British Legion
The court heard he was on holiday in the resort when the incident happened at about 0300 BST on 4 August.

War veterans in the town were outraged by the incident.

Ian Coleman, president of Blackpool's British Legion, said he was "stunned."

"This is beyond imagination how can any one of any race or creed do such a thing."

Prosecuting, Pamela Reiss said Amin was spotted on CCTV leaning against the cenotaph eating chips.

He then performed a sex act, wiped his hands on wreaths, continued eating his chips and walked off.

For his defence, Tony Slater said Amin was drunk and "he did not know it was a monument or the significance of the day on which he did it."

Magistrate Anne Smith told the court: "We hope you appreciate the amount of distress and outrage that this offence has caused to people.

"It was disgraceful behaviour and we treat it very seriously."

Amin came to the UK in April 2002 but has been refused asylum seven times.


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