Lorry drivers could have been killed as they slept in their cabs when a gang blew up a cash machine in a raid on a Worcestershire petrol station, a court heard.

The ATM was situated not far from the petrol pumps and the explosion could have been deadly, Worcester Crown Court was told.

The gang made off with nearly £13,000 from the raid on the BP Service Station on the A46 Cheltenham Road, near Evesham.

They were caught on August 1, 2015, in vehicles carrying the equipment to stage similar raids as they headed back to the Bristol area from Worcestershire after police tracked them using helicopters, the court heard. On that occasion, they had turned back without committing any offences.

Brennan Hartrey (CORRECT) was jailed for six years in February last year at Bristol Crown Court after pleading guilty to conspiring with others to cause an explosion, Michael Conry, prosecuting, told the court.

Today, he appeared before the court in Worcester by video link to plead guilty to causing an explosion likely to endanger life in the raid on the service station on July 17, 2015, two weeks before his arrest

Mr Conry told the court the raid on the Evesham petrol station was carried out at around four o'clock in the morning. A hole was drilled into the baseplate of the cash machine and a combination of gas and a liquid accelerant used to trigger an explosion, causing damage of £7,620 to the machine.

Mr Conry said the method had been a "current trend" and had been used in other crimes across the Midlands, the south West and the London area. The explosive mixture was designed to cause minimal damage to the cash in the machine. He said lorry drivers spending the night in their cabs at a car park at the service station, which also had a café, were woken up by the blast.

"The repercussions of the explosion could have been lethal," Mr Conry said.

Hartrey was traced through DNA in a getaway car, a Mini estate which was abandoned nearby.

James Haskell, defending, said it was not clear why the case had taken so long to reach the court.

Hartrey, aged 26, had a long record of offences dating back to when he was a juvenile but this was his longest spell in prison and he was finding it difficult, Mr Haskell said.

Recorder Charles Foster said the lorry drivers sleeping nearby could have been killed or injured in the explosion.

He said it was a matter of regret that the case had taken so long to reach court.

Hartrey, he said, had a "depressing" record. He was given a further twelve months on top of his existing six-year sentence.