Drug smoking and urinating vandals force relatives to guard Manchester Arena memorial

6 December 2021, 14:27 | Updated: 6 December 2021, 14:50

The "Glade of Light" Manchester Arena memorial was vandalised by trespassers, bereaved relatives say
The "Glade of Light" Manchester Arena memorial was vandalised by trespassers, bereaved relatives say. Picture: LBC/Manchester City Council

By Will Taylor

Vandals who urinated and smoked drugs at the Manchester Arena bombing memorial have left the victims' relatives "disgusted".

Two families said they found security fences at the site, where the Glade of Light memorial is being built, had been moved. Trespassers trampled over the scene, with one man apparently becoming abusive to the bereaved relatives.

It led to some relatives standing guard at the site and begging with people to treat the space with respect.

The feature near Manchester Cathedral is dedicated to 22 people killed by the blast, and includes a halo made of white marble at its centre, which will include the names of those who died in bronze.

Memory capsules containing mementos from loved ones are to be part of the memorial.

Read more: Manchester Arena bombing: Security failings led to 'missed opportunities' to save lives

Caroline Curry, of South Shields, lost her son Liam, 19, in the suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in 2017.

She said on Twitter on Sunday evening: "Arrived earlier and found the fencing around the glade has been moved and people walking thru & round the glade.

"I've witnessed urinating, vomiting, attempted theft, drug use and finally a drunk who claims to be/have been in the army walk across the halo.

The Glade of Light memorial was due to open over winter.
The Glade of Light memorial was due to open over winter. Picture: Manchester City Council

"When asked to get down his response "I don't give a f*** what it is" so my question is Where is the RESPECT we were told to expect from the people of Manchester?”

Ms Curry and Claire Brewster, whose sister Kelly died in the attack, spent hours guarding the site on Sunday evening.

Ms Brewster, from Sheffield, said: "The Glade of Light is a beautiful tribute and it deserves complete respect and protection.

"Last night, amongst other things, I had to stand & argue with a grown man, apparently a member of the @BritishArmy, for him to stop trampling all over my sister's name on her part of the halo.

"He was aggressive, abusive & argued he's been blown up 'for real' in Afghanistan and isn't lying like us!!

"I have massive respect for our armed forces, but they know the risks when then take on their role. 22 people went to a concert, not a war zone, and never made it home!!

The memorial is next door to the Manchester Cathedral
The memorial is next door to the Manchester Cathedral. Picture: Alamy

"We also had to move someone on from being sick and watch numerous others smoke weed or urinate right at the side of the memorial!!

"Manchester please, I am begging you, treat this memorial as special! Pay your respects when it's open, please don't disrespect our families."

Manchester City Council said it had sent a security team to "assess what's happening" and protect the site overnight.

Manchester councillor Pat Karney said: "The whole area is covered by CCTV and if footage shows it was due to the deliberate actions of mindless thugs, rather than a problem with the fencing itself, we will pass this information on to the police."

He added on Monday morning: "We will have an update on what went on later today. We are checking our cameras."