A SLEDGEHAMMER gang carried out a raid on a Worcester supermarket to get to the safe but left empty-handed.

Wayne Draisey, 35, Keith Johnson, 27, and Gavin Johnson, 35, admitted conspiracy to burgle three commercial properties, including Lidl in Newtown Road, Worcester.

Draisey of Guernsey Drive, Birmingham, Keith Johnson of Brookwood Avenue, Birmingham and Gavin Johnson of HMP Stoke Heath admitted the attempted raid on Lidl at 3.40am on January 14 last year.

Simon Phillips, prosecuting the case at Worcester Crown Court yesterday, said two men were seen on CCTV trying to break into a secure office using sledgehammers. Security bars were removed from the window and several windows were smashed, the door frame ripped off the disabled toilet and rubble left behind.

How we reported the original plea hearing

"A sledgehammer and a crowbar were found at the scene" said Mr Phillips. The offenders left before police arrived. Other similar raids were carried out by the gang at a Lidl in Birmingham and the Post Office in Longtown, Hereford in the same month.

No information was supplied by the prosecution about the cost of the damage caused.

Investigations centred on a stolen Citroen van being driven on cloned plates driven by Kieron Kelly who has yet to be dealt with by the courts. A tracker fitted to the Citroen and mobile phones seized from the defendants also helped police identify their movements at the relevant times.

Draisey initially claimed in interview he was near the Worcester Lidl to 'meet some girls' but when it was put to him he was part of a four man team targeting Lidl stores he replied 'no comment'.

Judge James Burbidge QC jailed Gavin Johnson for seven months but told him: "I don't intend you should be in custody beyond Christmas."

The others each received eight month prison sentences suspended for 12 months.