A GANG is behind bars after using a Land Rover stolen from Breightmet to ram into a jewellers.

The Land Rover was driven at speed into Rekha Jewellers in Penny Meadow, Ashton-under-Lyne, as the owners were closing up for the night at about 6pm.

The vehicle, which had been stolen from a home in Withins Lane, Breightmet, several days before the robbery on October 4 last year.

Due to the repeated ramming into the building a back wall and door collapsed.

The gang of Michael Faux, aged 28, of Burlington Road, Eccles, Paul Frater, aged 28, of Hendon Road, Manchester, Lee Sowe, aged 30, of Kinver Road, Moston, and Jamie Upton, aged 31, of Hill Lane, Manchester, admitted conspiracy to commit robbery and were jailed for a combined total of more than 30 years imprisonment at Manchester Crown Court.

The robbers pulled up with three stolen vehicles, including the Land Rover, which were all bearing false number plates, and pulled up in a line outside the store.

Staff in the store were not injured but were left shaken as the masked raiders burst in wearing hooded tops, masks and armed with a claw hammer.

They made off with a large sack of jewellery and cash before leaving in the stolen VW Golf. The getaway car rammed into three police cars as they tried to escape. Upton was arrested by police and the other defendants were arrested on a later date.

Det Cons Matthew Donnelly, from GMP’s serious organised crime group, said: "These men are prominent members of a notorious organised crime group we had been tracking for some time.

"These sorts of criminals are as meticulous in their planning as they are ruthless in their execution, evidenced by the fact they could easily have seriously injured the family who were inside the jewellers at the time they rammed into it and caused the wall to collapse.

"When you factor in the fact they rammed three police cars in a futile bid to escape, you can see just how little regard for the lives of other people these criminals have. They only care about one thing, money.

"But however thorough they may have thought their plan was, they were not smart enough to avoid being caught by police and the overwhelming forensic and surveillance evidence we had against them is the reason these criminals are now starting lengthy jail sentences.”

He said police will continue to pursue any criminals who target family-run stores and robbers.