The “disappointed” parents of three youths who trashed a model railway have been ordered to pay £1,500 for the damage they did to a £30,000 exhibition.
The teenagers - who cannot be named because of their age - got drunk on vodka during a pre-exam night out before deliberately trashing the display after breaking in Stamford Welland Academy in Stamford, Lincolnshire in the early hours of the morning.
Lincoln Youth Court heard how the boys went into the gym to play football where the displays had been set up on May 18th this year.
They then started pushing tables over and throwing parts of the displays at the walls, destroying 30 years of work in what was described as “mindless, wanton destruction” before hiding in the toilets after setting off an alarm.
Devastated members of the Market Deeping Model Railway Club said their ‘life’s work’ was ruined, some displays of which had taken more than 20 years to complete.
The three boys were handed 12-month referral orders, with their parents being ordered to pay £500 in compensation.
A fourth boy was told in court that he will be sentenced on September 2nd.
After news of the vandalism broke, more than £107,000 had been raised by the public to repair the exhibition, which included £10,000 from singer Rod Stewart, a model rail enthusiast.
Club members had spent the night before the destruction setting up scale models on tables in the school’s hall for their annual show, which was expected to have between 500 and 600 visitors.
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At the hearing, Chairman of the bench of magistrates, John Lock, told the three boys: ‘In nearly 20 years on the bench, I cannot recall such a case as this, of mindless, wanton destruction. It beggars belief.
“In the dead of night, when people are in their beds in the main, you were out playing football, which is extraordinary at that time of night.
“You came across the displays and models, all of you… and not content with kicking a ball, you then went on a rampage. The mindlessness comes shining through.”
The magistrates decided not to send the boys into custody.
“It would not be right to put you into custody. You have all got good futures and it is right that you make best use of them,” Mr Lock said.
“There will be a referral order. It will last for 12 months, which is the longest you can make an order for – there would be a wish that you could make it longer, but you can’t.
“Nothing can compensate for what you did that night”.
Prosecutor Shelley Wilson said the four boys had made admissions in interviews about the damage.
Ms Wilson said: “He said he went in to play football and to sleep.
“They saw the displays but continued to play. He claimed the damage was accidental.
“He then said he pushed over a few displays and caused some damage, as did the others.”
One model railway enthusiast from St Neots Model Railway Club, John Kneeshaw, who contributed £15,000 worth of models to the exhibition said that they destroyed more than 20 years’ work in what he described as a "labour of love".
Mr Kneeshaw's statement was read out in court by Ms Wilson.
“I am in total shock as to what has happened and why. The cost emotionally is very high – this is years of work and I do not understand why anyone would want to do this.
“It is truly devastating. It had been systematically destroyed by whoever had done it – the damage is not repairable or replaceable.”
One of the boys’ defence solicitors, Lynford Fuller, said they were ‘in drink’, which may have “impaired their judgment”.
The youths apologised for their behaviour, while their parents said they were ‘ashamed’ and ‘disappointed’.