A thug who used a makeshift flamethrower to attack a young army cadet selling Remembrance Day poppies in Manchester city centre is still being hunted by police.
The unprovoked attack happened on Saturday November 1 as the 15-year-old boy was waiting at a bus stop next to the Manchester Gallery, opposite George Street.
The teen, who was dressed in his camouflaged uniform, had spent the day collecting money and selling poppies for Remembrance Day.
As the schoolboy was looking down Princess Street for his bus, he was randomly approached by a hooded man who used an aerosol can and lighter to spray blazing flames into his direction.
The offender who is described as being black or Asian, 5ft 8in and was wearing a dark hooded top, appeared to be drunk as he staggered away from the scene.
Police are now keeping an open mind as to what may have triggered the callous attack and are appealing to anyone with information to come forward.
Detective Inspector Liam Boden said: “This is an absolutely appalling attack on a young man who was raising money to help remember all those who gave their lives fighting bravely for their country.
“At this stage of our inquiries, we’re keeping an open minded as to what motivated the offender to commit such an act.”
“Given the initial description we have of the offender, it may be that he was under the influence of something but whatever his motivation, his violent actions could have scarred this young man for life.
“Although he has suffered some minor injuries, it is pure luck that he did not sustain more serious burns to his face and body.”
The cadet suffered minor reddening to the face and singed hair on his face and right forearm.
Detective Inspector Liam Boden added: “Understandably both he and his family are in a state of total shock and cannot believe someone would do this.
“We need to find whomever is responsible for this crime and I would therefore appeal to anyone who has information that could help. This happened at a very busy time in the city centre, near a main bus route, and there could be lots of people who saw this man staggering around.
“If you do have information then please come forward.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Image courtesy of Carol, with thanks.