Children devastated by senseless attack

Counting the cost: Menai-Illawong Uniting Church minister Reverend Ron French said intruders vandalised the church grounds six times in a single fortnight. Pictures: Jane Dyson
Counting the cost: Menai-Illawong Uniting Church minister Reverend Ron French said intruders vandalised the church grounds six times in a single fortnight. Pictures: Jane Dyson
Why?: Principal of Illawong Public School Andrew Doyle and school captains Caitlin Docwra, 11, and Mitchell Shipp, 12, inspect the damage to post pads which were slashed by vandals.

Why?: Principal of Illawong Public School Andrew Doyle and school captains Caitlin Docwra, 11, and Mitchell Shipp, 12, inspect the damage to post pads which were slashed by vandals.

Vandals trashed an Illawong school, church and a number of nearby shops, leaving a damage bill of more than $3000 in late April.

Menai-Illawong Uniting Church minister Reverend Ron French said intruders vandalised the church grounds up to six times in a two-week period in April.

The latest attack on the Fowler Road church was the worst with the group smashing toilet windows and stealing a wheelchair from the disabled bathroom.

Mr French said the group scribbled graffiti on all windows and doors with bright textas and tagged a number of shops across the road.

‘‘It seems that these people have no care or concern for other people,’’ he said.

‘‘Maybe these teenagers are acting out for some reason and we are a soft target.

‘‘It’s frustrating because it costs money to clean up and the church is a community resource.

‘‘It takes people’s time away from what they normally do.’’

Illawong Public School principal Andrew Doyle said students were devastated when they found four classrooms and the playground vandalised after the weekend.

Mr Doyle said the group had stolen textas, highlighters and stationery from pencil cases to scribble graffiti on walls and windows as well as slashing eight post pads bought by the school with a $7000 grant, and ripping out metal grates.

‘‘It’s disappointing and heartbreaking when someone comes in here and wrecks all the hard work we have done,’’ Mr Doyle said.

‘‘It was awful looking at the kids’ faces.

‘‘They didn’t understand why anyone would want to do this to our school.’’

School captain Caitlin Docwra, 11, of Menai, said the school had better things to spend money on.

‘‘It’s pretty slack, these people mustn’t have a life,’’ she said. ‘‘Can’t they do something better with their time than trashing schools?’’

Mr Doyle said security alarms were set off about 7.30pm on Saturday, April 28, preventing the vandals from causing further damage.

He said it was the first break-in to the school since a high fence was installed.

Mr French and Mr Doyle believe the vandals broke into the school first and used stolen stationery to scribble graffiti on the church and shops across the road.

Sutherland police sent a forensic team to Illawong to take fingerprints and survey the damage and are appealing for witnesses.

Crime prevention officer Senior Constable Dave Hayes said police believe the incidents occurred between 4pm on April 28 and 8.30am on April 29.

Details: Sutherland police, 95420899 or Crime Stoppers, 1800333 000.