A VIOLENT gang which led police on a high-speed car chase through Burnley after a raid on a Blackburn jeweller’s shop has been jailed.
A court heard the men drove through several red lights, at twice the speed limit and on the wrong side of the road as they attempted to evade capture.
They were eventually caught after running out of petrol near Todmorden.
A learner driver helped to catch the gang by following them as they fled the scene of the robbery.
The pupil and his instructor followed the five-strong gang for around two miles, relaying reports to a 999 police operator, before officers arrived.
The raid at Rahman’s Jewellers in Blackburn last October sparked a 30-mile police chase from Lancashire to West Yorkshire through Burnley before the gang ditched their car.
Today four of the gang, all from Birmingham, are beginning a combined 14-year jail term after they were convicted at Preston Crown Court.
A fifth man will be sentenced next month.
The violent robbery saw the proprietor of the shop, Waheed Rahman slashed across the face with a knife and beaten around the head with an axe and hammer.
But the gang, who wore balaclavas and masks, were only able to get away with two gold “baby bangles”, which were found near their getaway car when it was abandoned in Portsmouth, near Todmorden.
Kathryn Blackwell, prosecuting, said: “The police followed the men as they drove aggressively through Burnley straight through several sets of red lights and often on the wrong side of the road.
Judge Anthony Russell QC said the incident was particularly violent.
He said: “This was a serious violent robbery using weapons to threaten violence and cause injury.”
Det Sgt Mark Winstanley, speaking after the case, said: “The level of violence used in this incident was particularly extreme.”
And he praised the driving instructor for his role in catching the gang.
DS Winstanley said: “The driving instructor was able to follow the gang at a safe distance and observe where they were going. He played a vital part in officers being able to locate the gang.”
Martin Butterworth, defe-nding, said: “Of course the enterprise failed which owed much to the plucky driving student and his tutor.”
Preston Crown Court heard that the five men left the West Midlands and headed to Blackburn early on Thursday, 23 October, last year. One of the group approached the jewellers at around 1.45pm and was let in to the shop via a buzzer security system on the door, saying he wanted to look at some baby bangles.
When the door was opened the rest of the group burst in and began to scoop handfuls of jewellery into a large plastic domestic bin that they had brought with them.
They were confronted by Mr Rahman, who was beaten with weapons including an axe, bat and knife.
The gang then panicked, the court heard, when the door to the shop closed behind them, locking them inside.
Police said the gang then smashed the large glass window to the front of the shop and fled in a black Audi getaway car without the bin full of jewellery, just two gold bangles.
The car was then spotted by the driving instructor, who has asked to remain anonymous, and they followed the gang to nearby Goldhey Street where a second getaway car had been parked in a back alley.
Police said the car then sped to the Whitebirk roundabout, past the police headquarters in Greenbank, and on to the M65 - still with the learner driver following.
Shortly after the gang found themselves being pursued by officers from the road policing unit, armed response unit and the force helicopter. At junction 10 the car turned into Burnley driving at high speeds through residential areas, running through several red lights and going the wrong way around a number of roundabouts.
As the gang got towards Todmorden all five men bailed out of the car in Carrfield Villas, Portsm-outh, while the vehicle was still moving. It then crashed into a parked car.
Asad Mohammed, 25, of Newton Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham was jailed for four years, eight months; Mohammed Nasir Khan, 19, of Walford Road, Birmingham was jailed for three years four months; Adnan Ahmed, 20, of Baker Street, Sparkhill, Birmingham was jailed for three years and a 17- year-old man from Birmingham, who cannot be named for legal reasons was jailed for three years.
A fifth man, Shah Hussain, 29, of Lichfield Road, Birmingham will be sentenced next month
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