A squatter who admitted to ruining a two minutes silence during a Remembrance Sunday event by setting off fireworks has been jailed for 16 weeks.
Stuart Potts set off two fireworks just as the traditional Last Post sounded after hundreds of armed forces supporters & veterans observed the two minutes’ silence for the war dead at the cenotaph in Eccles, Salford, on Sunday.
Potts was squatting in a disused pub across the road from the cenotaph.
Without any warning, he fired the rockets while sat on a ledge of a first-floor window.
Wearing military-style camouflage fatigues, Potts pleaded guilty to one count of throwing a firework in a public place and a public order offence.
According to reports, Potts has 21 previous convictions for 39 offences.
CPS Lawyer Kate Draper explained to the court that Potts had fired two fireworks, the first resulting in several loud bangs, and the second a rocket which flew 15ft above the heads of the large gathering at the Remembrance Day event.
A crowd of angry veterans and armed forces supporters gathered outside the pub window shouting, “Get him out!” as they tried to break the door of the derelict pub.
Other members of the crowd tried to scale up to the first-floor window where Potts was goading the crowd.
The court heard a statement from a former Royal Marine who was at the event to place a cross on the cenotaph for a fallen comrade.
The Marine said in his statement that the loud bangs from the fireworks fired by Potts had reminded him of combat and it had affected his post-traumatic stress disorder.
He also said it was the most disrespectful thing he had witnessed at such an event.
Judge Mark Hadfield told Potts that ‘only a custodial sentence is appropriate’ as he jailed him for 16 weeks for the public order offence.
Potts was seen to shake his head as he was led away from the Dock before starting his sentence.
Judge Hadfield said:
“I have heard a statement from someone who served in the armed forces who was attending at this event.
“He thought it was gunfire.
“This has had a detrimental effect on him, and many others like him would have been shocked.”
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