Vandalism spree costs parents £800

MAGISTRATES have ordered the parents of a 10-year-old boy who took part in a vandalism spree which caused nearly £20,000 damage at a school to pay £800 compensation.

MAGISTRATES have ordered the parents of a 10-year-old boy who took part in a vandalism spree which caused nearly £20,000 damage at a school to pay £800 compensation.

Police said the youngster and two 11-year-old boys left "a scene of total devastation" after breaking into Stowmarket Middle School in Stowmarket, Suffolk, "for fun" on a Saturday afternoon in early June.

Excrement was spread around, musical instruments were wrecked, carpets were flooded and computers damaged after the youngsters forced their way in by using a bar to smash a window.

The school had to shut for two days while staff and volunteers cleared up and the head said staff and children had been left in a state of "massive shock".

A senior detective said it was one of the worst cases of vandalism he had seen in more than 20 years as a policeman.

The 10-year-old and one of the 11-year-olds yesterdayadmitted causing criminal damage when they appeared before a youth court in Bury St Edmunds,

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Prosecutor John Fenn said the 10-year-old, who wore short trousers as he stood with his mother in court, had already been reprimanded for theft as a result of a previous offence.

Magistrates imposed a six-month referral order on both boys under which they will be monitored by youth offender officers.

The parents of both children were also ordered to pay £800 compensation each.

The second 11-year-old admitted criminal damage at an earlier hearing and was sentenced in identical fashion. He was not in court.

None of the boys can be identified for legal reasons.

"I thought it would be fun and we would get away with it,' the 11-year-old, who stood next to his father in court, told magistrates before he was sentenced.

"We had been swimming. It was fun but then it got out of hand.'

Magistrate Graham Higgins said: "It is a lot of money your dad is going to have to pay on your behalf. You think what you get for Christmas. How many Christmases you are looking at? I would like you to think about that.

"Think what other people may be missing out on because of your 'fun'."

Det Insp David Rutterford said after the hearing that officers had been alerted by an intruder alarm.

He said "The boys had systematically worked their way through the classrooms causing significant damage. The level and the nature of the criminal damage was quite shocking.

"Excluding arson, this is the worst case of systematic criminal damage I have ever seen in my 22 years in the police service."

Headmaster Gordon Ewing said: "It has been a shock to the life of the school. We have a good reputation and have never had this kind of problem in the past.

"It was a massive shock. We had to close for two days in order to get back to some semblance of normality.

"I can only praise the local community for the way in which they responded in terms of help and fundraising.

"I can only say it was a motiveless act. I don't think there was any malice. I think things just got out of hand.'

He said arrangements were being made to recoup the costs incurred as a result of the attack through insurers.

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