THREE people who pulled alongside a motorist on the M65 and threatened him with a gun have been jailed.

The ‘petrified’ motorist was travelling between junctions seven and eight when the Carl and Walther P38 self-loading pistol was pointed at him during the afternoon incident.

When detectives recovered the gun it had a round of live ammunition in the chamber and another two in the storage magazine.

The former head of policing in East Lancashire has condemned the attack which he said must have left the victim, who did not know the occupants of the car, terrified.

The gang, Umar Hamid, 23, and Zishan Hussain, 19, and Sacha Conroy, 26, all pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intention to cause fear of violence when they appeared at Preston Crown Court.

Police said they were alerted to the trio, who were in a red Fiat Punto, after the victim called officers to say he had be threatened with the hand gun.

After driving eastbound towards junction eight, following the incident at 3.30pm on january 22, the gang left the motorway and carried along the A56.

They were eventually forced to stop when their car crashed with an Audi A4, in Bolton Road, Bury.

Detectives arrested the gang at the scene and found the loaded gun hidden under the back seat. More live ammunition was also found inside the vehicle, police said.

Conroy, of Booth Crescent, Waterfoot, was sentenced to five years behind bars, as was Hussain, of Ripon Street, Blackburn who received a further 16 week jail term for breaching an order.

Hamid, of Keele Walk, Blackburn, was jailed for five years and three months.

Det Sgt Kathryn Cussans, of Blackburn Police, said the force would not let people who brandish guns get away with it.

She said: “I am satisfied with the sentences handed down. They send out a clear message that the use, or threat of the use, of firearms in our county will not be tolerated.

“Lancashire Constabulary is committed to tackling gun crime and we will do all we can to ensure that people who deal in this type of crime are brought to justice.”

Speaking after the hearing, former chief constable Bob Eastwood said gun crime must be ‘deplored’ and praised Mr Recorder Nicholas Clarke QC for the hefty sentence.

He said: “These were a terrible set of circumstances and the innocent motorist who was subjected to this violence must have been petrified.

“I am sure this would have had a significant impact in the judge’s mind when he was sentencing them.

“Thankfully, across Lancashire, gun crimes are very few and far between, but this incident just goes to show some of the dangers faced by police officers when confronted with armed criminals.

“The judge has given a heavy sentence as must be the case for people engaged in this sort of criminality.”