TWO members of a professional ram-raiding gang have been jailed for nearly 10 years.

Horse dealer Robert Harker, 35, and car salesman Asa Dominic Smith, 23, were among four men in balaclavas who partially demolished a Dunnington petrol station at night as they tried to rip a cash machine out of its wall, said Tom Storey, prosecuting.

The gang had just broken into a nearby agricultural machinery business where they had put forks from a forklift truck onto a Merlin lifter before driving it out of the depot to use in the raid.

They had a van converted so they could drop the ATM into it through its roof and getaway vehicles and changes of clothes waiting on their planned escape route.

They had also reconnoitred the area a couple of days before the raid on June 29, 2015.

But they had to flee empty handed when their actions forced the cash machine further into the building and set off the burglar alarms.

Their crime caused thousands of pounds of damage at both businesses and shocked the garage staff so much all have since changed jobs. The ATM itself has been removed and not replaced, York Crown Court heard.

The Penny Petroleum garage lost nearly £50,000 because of the raid in repairs, lost revenue and other costs.

Police had to mount extra patrols to reassure local Dunnington residents who had been awakened by the ram raiders smashing the wall.

“You left behind a considerable amount of damage, heartache and fear within the local community,” the Honorary Recorder of York, Judge Paul Batty QC, told the ram-raiders.

“It cannot be stressed too clearly and too often that those who involve themselves in professional criminality as you two did will receive the sort of deterrent sentences that professional criminals deserve.”

Harker, of Hundens Lane, Darlington, was jailed for five years and four months and Smith, of Lands End Road Caravan Site, Doncaster, for four years and two months. Both admitted conspiracy to steal.

For Harker, Warren Ridley said he had run up debts gambling which led to him committing offences.

Kate Refter for Smith said he had not behaved in a sophisticated way.

Temporary detective sergeant Kevin Goodman and Det Con Theresa Wright received commendations for bringing the pair to justice.

Det Sgt Goodman said: “These men were driven by greed and it was by sheer luck that no one was injured by their reckless actions.

“This was a multi-faceted investigation which came together with the valued assistance from the local community, whose support and invaluable information ultimately helped to bring the offenders to justice. We’re thrilled with the substantial sentences handed down today which reflect the very serious nature of this crime.”