TWO men were allegedly planning to blow the back off a petrol station cash machine with a gas canister, a court has heard.

Preston Crown Court heard that Carl David Wilcock and Craig Hurst had allegedly planned to use the device to steal thousands of pounds from the cash machine inside the Texaco Garage in Simonstone but were interrupted after a resident called the police.

Both men were found by police hiding in bushes following the incident which happened around 3.30am on May 22.

Wilcock, 37, of Cheriton Drive, Bolton, and Hurst, 37, of Brooks Drive, Manchester, have both pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal but deny having an explosive substance with intent.

Prosecuting, Paul Brookwell, said: “Both defendants face one matter for trial, namely that they had possession of an explosive device. It is alleged the purpose of having the explosive device was to blow the back off an ATM situated at a Texaco garage.

“As far as both defendants are concerned they have pleaded guilty to an offence of burglary of the Texaco garage with intent to steal. They admit to a make a crude attempt to break into the back of the ATM machine using a Stihl saw. Both men deny knowledge of or possession of the gas cannister, and therefore any intent to use it.”

Mr Brookwell said the cannister contained the explosive gas, propane. The cannister was connected to a tube, which was in turn connected to a battery and igniter.

He said: “As far as the prosecution case is concerned it is believed the defendants were going to use some form of hand tool to get a little hole at the back of the ATM machine. They would then feed in the tube, turn on the gas and use the igniter to explode the gas, Therefore blowing the back off the back of the ATM and getting access to the cash.”

Mr Brookwell said both men are seen on CCTV footage walking back and forth between the garage and two vehicles parked nearby.They both have their hoods up and one man is seen carrying a Stihl saw.

The footage also shows the men running away once police have been called.

The prosecutor said when officers arrived they found the side door of the Texaco garage had been forced open and damage had been caused to the back of the cash machine.But the safe containing the cash was still there.

Officers found a blue Peugeot van and a Ford Galaxy parked nearby. Both vehicles had false registration plates. The plate on the Galaxy, which was registered to Wilcock, was secured with an elastic band.

The canister was found in the back of the Peugeot van. Mr Brookwell said Wilcock’s fingerprints were found on the inside of the drivers door on the Peugeot.

The court heard ANPR camera checks placed the Peugeot and the Galaxy in the Simonstone area two days prior to the burglary. The two vehicles were also travelling within seconds of each other.

Wilcock and Hurst were both arrested at the scene. They both answered no comment in relation to their involvement in the offence during police interview, Mr Brookwell said.

The trial is expected to last for three days.