Three teeenage vandals plead guilty to smashing Market Deeping Model Railway Club exhibition at Stamford Welland Academy
A gang of schoolboys destroyed a model railway exhibition after breaking in to a school sports hall to play football in the middle of the night, a court heard.
The youths caused damage costing £30,000 and smashed up hand-built locomotives and displays including one which had taken 36 years to build - leaving Market Deeping Model Railway Club organisers in tears.
Four youths aged 15 and 16 were arrested after rampaging through a sports hall at Stamford Welland Academy during the early hours of Saturday, May 18.
Three of the youths, all now aged 16, today (Monday, August 19) pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal damage during a hearing at Lincoln Youth Court.
A fourth youth, also 16, will appear before the same court later today.
A Youth Court bench are expected to sentence all four youngsters later today.
Organisers said five complete train track layouts which each run up to 30 metres were damaged - forcing the annual event to be cancelled for the first time in more than 30 years.
A layout for youngsters could not be saved and the club is now rebuilding and promoting youth events.
Following the vandalism, well-wishers raised more than £60,000 for the club - including rockstar Rod Stewart.
The model train enthusiast, who has his own 100ft model railway at his Beverley Hills home, handed over £10,000 and called on celebrity friends Jools Holland and Roger Daltrey to do the same.
The musician, 74, said: "I was absolutely devastated to hear that vandals had destroyed what was to be a lovely show by the Market Deeping Model Railway Club over the weekend.
"The collection was priceless and I am donating £10,000 to help compensate those affected and asking fellow enthusiasts Jools Holland, Roger Daltrey and others to do the same.
"It took me 23 years to build my model railway so I feel their pain."
More than 400 visitors had been expected at the display in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Committee chairman Peter Davies said: "The youngsters were attacking with hammers. They were playing football with model locomotives.
"We even found a box containing wagons and carriages thrown up in a basketball ring.
“One hammer had been used so hard the handle was broken and the head flown off.
"The devastation was total. It was mindless vandalism. Everyone is devastated.”
Police alerted by an alarm arrested four youths who were bailed pending inquiries.