A group of teenagers who were drunk had no idea that they were dealing with a model railway estimated to be around £30,000. Three young men were given referral orders and ordered to pay compensation while the fourth awaits verdict.
The gang aged between 15 and 16, played football amidst trains and destroyed the locomotives with hammers after drinking vodka. The set was created in the sports hall of Stamford Welling Academy in Lincolnshire for an annual exhibition by the Market Deeping Model Railway Club.
The boys admitted that they were involved in the act at Lincoln court and their parents have been ordered to pay £500 in compensation, along with a 12-month referral order.
One of the models took 36 years to be built. Singer and model railway enthusiast Rod Stewart has donated £10,000 to a fund set up by well-wishers. So far, more than £107,000 has been raised for the club.
Stewart said: “The collection was priceless. It took me 23 years to build my model railway so I feel their pain.”
John Lock, the chairman of the bench, said: “In nearly 20 years on the bench, I cannot recall such a case as this, of mindless, wanton destruction. It beggars belief.
“You came across the displays and models… and not content with kicking a ball, you then went on a rampage.”
The chairman of the Market Deeping Model Railway Club, Peter Davies, said that he was pleased with the judicial process, but added that it was ‘right they [the youths] make the best use of their future’.
He continued: “We have to allow them to make a second start, although I don’t condone the damage, it was horrific.”
Davies also said that the ‘enormous’ sum of money that has been raised via the JustGiving page would go to a charitable trust, one of the aims of which will be to set up youth projects.
He said: “By October we could see 60 young people involved in modelling projects they would never have done before.”
The four boys admitted to their crimes during interviews with the police, according to Prosecutor Shelley Wilson.
One of the boys’ defence solicitors added that the boys were “in drink” and that had “impaired their judgement”.
The court was also told that they had apologised for their actions and that their parents were “ashamed” and “disappointed”.