THREE men have been jailed for almost 20 years in relation to an attempted attack on a cash machine in Handforth which resulted in a ‘vicious and brutal’ police chase.

Carl Hargin, 31, Kieran Patrick Shortman, 31, and Craig Cox, 27, all from the Salford area, pleaded guilty to a number of offences relating to a planned ATM attack that was thwarted by officers from Cheshire Police.

The trio appeared at Chester Crown Court on Monday, March 6, and pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, conspiracy to cause an explosion and conspiracy to steal and were each handed sentences of six years and four months.

The charges followed an incident at approximately 3am on October 14, 2016, when PC Gareth Hawkins and PC Philip Reeves were on patrol in an unmarked police car near Handforth.

As the officers travelled along Wilmslow Road their attention turned towards a Black Audi A3, with four men on board, which was travelling in the opposite direction.

The officers followed the car and as they got closer the vehicle made off at high speed towards Poynton.

The pursuit continued for several miles, with the Audi reaching speeds of up to 110 miles per hour.

On two occasions during the chase the Audi stopped and one of the passengers got out and attacked the police car with a sledgehammer, before getting back into the car and driving off.

On the second occasion the police car sustained serious damage and was unable to continue with the pursuit.

The Audi then drove off from the scene, eventually coming to a stop on Woodford Road after the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the garden of a nearby address. All of the men then fled the scene on foot.

After recovering the vehicle officers launched a full investigation leading to the arrest of Hargin and Shortman on October 25, and Cox on November 19.

Det Insp Claire Jesson said: “I’d like to thank all of the officers that were involved in this investigation, as a result of their hard work and the overwhelming evidence that they gathered, the offenders in the case were left with no option but to plead guilty to all of the charges brought against them.

“I would particularly like to acknowledge the efforts of PC Hawkins and PC Reeves. Between them they have more than 16 years of service and both have said that this incident was the most vicious and brutal incident that they have ever experienced in their whole careers.

“Thankfully, the pair were not injured during the attack and, as a result of their courage, bravery and ingenuity they were able to prevent a major ATM attack, which could have resulted in the theft of thousands of pounds.

“I hope the sentences handed down to these men act as a warning to other offenders who are looking to come to Cheshire to commit crime. Cheshire is not an easy target and we will do all that we can to locate and prosecute anyone who comes to Cheshire to commit crime.”