Jail sentences totalling more than 23 years were imposed this week on five burglars who raided GW Hurley newsagents in Burnham-On-Sea, plus a Co-op store in Gloucestershire and led police on a dramatic high speed chase.

Three of the gang carried out the burglary at Burnham-On-Sea’s GW Hurley store last November and the sentences passed on them at Gloucester Crown Court on Wednesday (November 8th) covered that offence too.

Judge Jamie Tabor QC heard that in each of the raids the burglars got away with more than £7,000 worth of cigarettes and tobacco.

After the Co-op store in Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire raid, police chased the gang’s getaway car, which reached speeds of 120mph and crashed twice.

Although four of the men jumped out of the car and ran off in different directions after the car’s first crash they were all arrested thanks to evidence found at the scene by police dogs – and also because of high-tech phone tracking.

In the dock were: Keiran Maguire, 27, of Hazleton Close, Gloucester, Malachi Headman-Cook, 27, of Linden Close, Cooper’s Edge, Brockworth, Thomas Townsley, 27, of Tuffley Avenue in Gloucester, Miguel Richards, 27, of no fixed address and Lee Thomas, 39, of Tuffley Avenue in Gloucester.

Headman-Cook, who admitted taking part in both burglaries and was on a deferred sentence for an earlier burglary, was jailed for seven years.

Richards, who took part in the Bourton burglary only but then tried to pervert the course of justice by persuading him to give a false alibi, was sentenced to four years.

Townsley, who took part in both raids, was jailed for four years and three months.

A sentence of three years jail was passed on Bourton getaway driver Thomas who admitted that burglary and also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving. He was also banned from driving for three years.

Finally, Maguire, who admitted the Burnham burglary but denied taking part in the Bourton raid – but was convicted by a jury by a 10-2 majority after a trial this week – received a total sentence of five years three months.

Prosecutor Philip Warren said that on 2nd November last year Colin Morris, owner of GW Hurley in Burnham-On-Sea, received a call to say his alarm had gone off. He got to the shop and found it had been broken into and £7,600 worth of tobacco products had been stolen.

He was not insured for the loss and the business had been badly hit as a result, he said.

Mr Warren said the three burglars – Headman-Cook, Maguire and Townsley – were caught thanks to police being able to track all their mobile phone signals from Gloucester to Burnham and back. Their car number plate was also picked up by automatic recognition machines en route.

The Bourton on the Water raid took place on Dec 6th last year and the five man gang used the same VW Golf car but this time without number plates. About £7,000 worth of cigarettes and tobacco were stolen in the raid.

Police on patrol nearby spotted the car at 1.35am and began following it on the A436, said Mr Warren.

With Thomas driving, the car reached high speeds, executed dangerous overtaking and undertaking manoeuvres and went through red lights. In North Cerney, the car went out of control and crashed and the four passengers all jumped out and ran.

Thomas managed to get going again and the chase resumed. At one stage he made a ‘near suicidal’ undertake of two lorries alongside each other. He then crashed through a gate and into a field of sheep as he tried to make a turning near Duntisbourne Leer.

Mr Warren said when the men fled the car after the first crash various clothing and other items were thrown away but they were later found by two police dogs and DNA from the defendants was found on them.

Subsequently Richards contacted his girlfriend and got her to lie for him, saying he had been with her all that night. She has since been jailed for three months for that offence.

Mr Warren said all the men had criminal records. Headman-Cook had fifteen previous convictions, including four for robbery and three for burglary. Ricards had 13 convictions, threee for robbery, and is currently on parole from a ten year sentence imposed in 2011 for a knife attack.

Townsley had made 18 previous court appearances for a total of 31 offences.

Thomas had 39 previous convictions for 99 offences on his reford and Maguire had made 21 past court appearances including for wounding and burglary.

Nick Fridd, for Headman-Cook, said he knew he had let the judge down by not keeping out of trouble after he had the chance of a deferred sentence for a Shurdington house burglary last year.

“He was in a bad place when he committed these offences,” Mr Fridd said. “He had turned to alcohol, gambling, the roulette tables, and he needed money.”

For Richards, Mark Sharman said: “He is thoroughly ashamed.”

He referred the court to reference letters which spoke of the good side of Richards – helping an animal welfare charity.

For Townsley, Joe Maloney said he was supported at court by his mother and grandmother.

“He got involved in this after losing his job as a driver,” he said.

Mark Linehan, for Thomas, who is a dad of three, added: “He was particularly low at this time. His relationship had ended, his grandmother had passed away, he had lost his employment and he had reverted to misuse of Class A drugs and alcohol.”

Mr Linehan described Thomas as a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character.

Mr Fridd, for Maguire, said that since the start of this year he had turned his life around and was trying hard to keep away from crime – much at the behest of his girlfriend, who herself has a good job.