TWO men who planned to ignite a gas canister to blow off the back of a cash machine and steal thousands of pounds have been jailed for a total of 15 years.

A jury at Preston Crown Court heard that Carl David Wilcock and Craig Hurst had planned to use the canister at the Texaco Garage in Simonstone but were interrupted after a passer-by 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, both pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal.

But a jury of six men and six women took around an hour to find them both guilty of having an explosive substance with intent.

Judge Philip Parry jailed them each for a total of seven and a half years.

Prosecuting the case, Paul Brookwell said the canister contained an explosive gas, propane.

The canister was connected to a tube, which was in turn connected to a battery and igniter.

Mr Brookwell said: “As far as the prosecution case is concerned 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 were seen on CCTV footage walking back and forth between the garage and two vehicles parked nearby.

"They both had their hoods up and one man was seen carrying a Stihl saw.

The footage also shows the men running away once police had 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 driver's door on the Peugeot.

The court heard automatic number plate camera checks placed the Peugeot and the Galaxy in the Simonstone area two days prior to the burglary.

The judge also ordered each of the men to pay a £170 victim surcharge penalty.