WOULD-BE bank robbers swung a sledgehammer at a police car and led officers on a high-speed chase through Wiltshire in a bid to escape the law.

But the gang of four Liverpool men could not evade prison.

The group has been sentenced to a total of 56 years in prison after a Swindon Crown Court jury found the four guilty of conspiracy to robbery. Yesterday, detectives accused the group of mercilessly attacking police.

Swindon Crown Court heard the men planned to attack and rob a cash delivery at the former HSBC bank on Welton Road, Westlea, on February 11, 2016.

But a 999 call from a member of the public interrupted their plans and the gang was stopped a short distance from the branch.

One gang-member,

Stephen Hurst, swung a sledgehammer through the windscreen and front passenger window of the patrol


The group rammed into the car in a stolen Audi, before switching into a Mercedes van. The vehicle was later tracked by police in Gloucestershire, near the M5, where the gang led officers on a 100mph pursuit through the countryside.

After ditching the van, gang member Stephen Westhead headed to the nearby Old Spot pub, near Cheltenham, where he dumped clothing and a mobile phone in a cistern in the gents’ toilets. The clothing was later found to contain pieces of glass from the Swindon police car’s smashed windscreen.

Co-conspirators Martin Hyland and Stephen and Craig Hurst brothers were then found hiding under a nearby road bridge knee deep in the River Chelt.

Det Con Mike Armishaw said: “This was a group of villains who travelled from Liverpool to Swindon on a number of occasions to assess and plan their attack on a bank, using a number of stolen vehicles on false plates.

“However, when their plan was foiled they mercilessly attacked a police car with a sledgehammer before attempting to escape across two counties before being captured.

“Throughout this investigation numerous members of the public have provided key evidence that has led to these convictions and I would like to thank them for their assistance.

“Finally, I would also like to express my thanks to my two colleagues who were sat in the patrol car and who, despite coming under a ferocious attack, managed to still pursue this gang which later led to their apprehension.”

Craig Hurst, 32, of Egerton Street, Liverpool, was sentenced to 14 years in prison, Stephen Westhead, 34, of Winterlea Drive, Liverpool, was sentenced to 14 years, Martin Hyland, 33, of Alfred Mews, Liverpool, 15 years in prison, and Stephen Hurst, 34, received a 13 year sentence.

Stephen Westhead had earlier pleaded guilty to threatening a person with an offensive weapon and Audi driver Martin Hyland admitted dangerous driving.