Three teenagers have been sentenced for criminal damage after Rochdale Cenotaph was daubed with the words “Free Palestine”.

Adeem Ahmed and Amaan Tariq, both 18, and a 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were given six-month referral orders – a community-based sentence which is overseen by a youth offender panel.

The Greater Manchester town’s war memorial was targeted on November 7 last year, just a day after a separate incident in which two other teenagers damaged poppy wreaths while shouting antisemitic language.

Both incidents led to police guarding the memorial ahead of Remembrance Day.

Ahmed, of Queensway, Rochdale, Tariq, of Convent Grove, Rochdale, and the 17-year-old pleaded guilty to criminal damage but were due to face trial this month after each denied the damage was racially aggravated.

The Crown Prosecution Service later discontinued the trial “on evidential grounds” and earlier this month they were sentenced to the referral orders and also told to pay £140 in compensation, £85 court costs and a £26 victim surcharge.

Tariq and the youth also pleaded guilty to the theft of spray cans and paint brushes from B&M Bargains in Rochdale.

The defendants’ parents attended the hearing last November when pleas were entered at Manchester Magistrates’ Court.

When District Judge Joanne Hirst fixed the trial date she told the teenagers: “You have pleaded guilty to a very serious offence.

“Desecration of a cenotaph is not a normal case of criminal damage. War memorials are generally expected to be treated with respect.

“You might be interested to know that more than five-and-a-half million Muslims died in the Second World War fighting for freedom.

“Be under no illusion that the sentence will be serious because of the serious nature of the desecration of cenotaphs.”

In January – in a separate case – two 17-year-old males were sentenced to 10-month referral orders over the damage to the memorial wreaths on November 6.

The pair filmed themselves during the incident and later uploaded the video to social media.

They claimed they had become angry after seeing a video online of a man removing Palestinian flags from the cenotaph.