TEENAGE trespassers who caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to a comprehensive school have been spared jail.

Teesside Crown Court heard how swastika symbols were sprayed on the walls at Woodham Comprehensive School, in Newton Aycliffe, and computer equipment, including expensive iPads and projectors, were damaged and stolen.

Some of the defendants were claimed to hold grudges against the teachers, although prosecutor Martin Towers said elements of the misbehaviour had more in common with “youthful high jinks”, than any criminal intent.

Mr Towers said there were four break-ins in autumn 2015 with the last one, on October 28, causing £20,000 damage.

He said a scooter was ridden down a corridor, while chairs were smashed and thrown around.

Mr Towers also described a further break in on November 5/6 of that year at partially derelict shopping centre in the town with damage being caused to fire doors and a roof.

Liam Pearson, 19, of Bede Crescent and Dane Sanderson, also 19, of Crosby Road, both Newton Aycliffe admitted conspiracy to burgle and burglary.

Joseph Lee, 18, of Emerson Way, Michael Hannah, 18, of Beechfield and Matthew Milward, 19, of Falconer Way, all Newton Aycliffe, and Matthew Todd, 18, of Anns Terrace, Darlington, all admitted offences of burglary.

Another defendant, Sarah-Jane Shenton, 18, of Emerson Way, Newton Aycliffe, who was not present at the shopping centre, also admitted burglary.

Lawyers said it had been foolishness that got out of hand with the defendants expressing remorse and shame.

Judge Tony Briggs described the teenagers as a “sorry looking bunch” and the school break-ins disgraceful.

The judge said had they been adults at the time of the offences they would have lost their liberty, but most were 17 or only just turned 18.

He took into account that no offences had been committed by the defendants prior or after the break-ins.

Pearson, Sanderson and Milward were each given 250 hours unpaid work, Lee 100 hours and Todd 100 hours with £300 costs. Hannah received 50 hours and Shenton a two year conditional discharge.