A PROFESSIONAL raider who blew up part of a York petrol station to steal £57,000 from the ATM has been jailed for 11 years.

York Crown Court was told staff at the Coop Service station on Great North Way, Nether Poppleton, hid inside fearing for their lives after alerting police. They were concerned sparks from angle grinders used by the gang could set off forecourt petrol tanks. The court heard George Tunney, 24, was part of a York based gang touring Yorkshire and the Midlands blowing up ATMs by igniting gas poured into them. Of six raids carried out in January last year only the York one succeeded, along with three in March after Tunney had been arrested and bailed.

Tunney admitted two charges of conspiracy to cause explosion, two conspiracies to burgle, theft of cash and aggravated vehcile taking. He was caught with a 16 year old and another member of the gang Frederick Levi Squires, 38,who were arrested after a 130mph police chase round York Outer ring road.

In addition to the 11-year prison sentence, he was banned from driving for eight years. The prosecution said an order will be made to apply later this year for his assets to be confiscated and him to be made subject to a serious crime prevention order.

Defending Tunney, Catherine Silverton said he was unsophisticated and had not been the leader of the gang and he was too scared to reveal who the other gang members were for fear of reprisals on his family.