The leader of a gang who carried out a ‘professionally planned’ robbery at a mobile phone shop has been jailed.

Ajay Singh was on the run, having walked out of an open prison a month earlier, when he raided Carphone Warehouse on Wootton Bassett Road.

The 28-year-old and two accomplices escaped with mobiles worth £57,000 before locking a terrified staff member in a safe.

David Richards, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how the worker saw a car pull up outside the store on Wednesday, October 3.

He was suspicious, as it looked parked for a quick getaway, and seconds later three hooded men wearing balaclavas burst into the small store.

One of the other robbers was particularly aggressive but seemed to be taking instructions from Singh, he told the court. CCTV footage showed the victim having his wrists held together over his head as he was marched into the back office.

During the attack he was threatened with a canister of what appeared to be pepper spray as well as being manhandled by the robbers.

Once in the back room the raiders removed 106 phones from the safe, where the high-worth stock is kept, which they stole.

They then took the worker’s mobile from him, punching him when he tried to hold on to it, and forced him into the safe before fleeing the scene in a stolen car, which had false plates fitted.

The store’s manager was in the rest room at the time and looked through the glass door to see the raid in progress. He was able to go out the back door to raise the alarm and managed to release his colleague after 90 seconds locked up. The getaway car’s registration was noted down by a passer by and traced on the M4 heading east.

A police helicopter followed it on the M25 and M1 in north London the car raced away at 110mph before being abandoned ear the North Circular Road.

The three men jumped out making a run for it and the defendant was found soon after hiding in bushes.

He was serving a six-year sentence imposed in June 2016 for conspiracy to burgle a Carphone Warehouse in Hertfordshire. In March this year he was transferred to Ford open prison in Sussex and on September 3 he was found to be missing.

Mr Roberts said the victim was left traumatised by the incident and asked to be transferred to a busier store.

Singh, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to escape and robbery. The court heard he had a history of robbery, burglary and drug dealing.

Kyan Pucks, defending, said he was not the violent one at the robbery, did not have a weapon and did not put the man in the safe.

Jailing him for six years and eight months, Judge Robert Pawson said “This was a robbery. You did have a leading role. You have said or it is said on your behalf that you have shown remorse. Not according to the probation service who say you do not appear genuinely remorseful for the consequences of your actions.”

The two other men are still at large.