A GANG member involved in a number of thefts by blowing up cash machines has been jailed for 13 years.

Thirty-year-old Ian Ellis, of Warrington Road, Rainhiill was one of a gang of five men who were sentenced today at Liverpool Crown Court.

They were responsible for a series of ATM attacks at 28 different premises last year including on Eccleston Street, in Prescot, last September.

Ellis was charged with conspiracy to cause an explosion and conspiracy to commit burglary other than a dwelling.

The attacks resulted in losses to the businesses targeted by the thieves of approximately £1.5 million and damage to the properties estimated to be in excess of £200,000.

Detective Chief Inspector Gayle Rooney, from the Matrix Serious Organised Crime Team (MSOC), said: "This is a culmination of a year long investigation into crimes involving thefts from cash point machines across the North West and Central England."

"Given the geographical spread of these offences the investigation has been complex and extensive. To gather all the evidence for the conspiracy to put before the courts detectives have worked together with investigation teams from Warwickshire and West Mercia Police, and both the North West and Midlands Regional Organised Crime Units, as well as detectives from 10 other forces."

DCI Rooney, added: "These five men thought they were untouchable and they used hazardous tactics in targeting ATM's, clearly endangering members of the public. The techniques used by the men involved in these attacks were extremely dangerous and we are fortunate that no-one was hurt.

"These men were driven by greed and a need to fund lavish lifestyles, expensive cars, holidays and large houses. They didn't think about the danger of what they were doing and the potential that they could cause serious and significant injuries to others through their reckless actions.

"These convictions send out a strong message to those who commit these types of crime. Merseyside Police is, and will always be, relentless in its targeting of criminals involved in serious and organised crime and for us there are no boundaries."

The others convicted are: Thomas Whittingham, 28, of Broughton Hall Road, West Derby was found guilty of both offences and sentenced to 18 years

Anthony Bushell, 29, of Childers Street, Old Swan was found guilty of both offences and sentenced to 17 years

Craig Cartwright, 39, of Vinecote Road, Coventry pleaded guilty to both offences and has been sentenced to 17 years

Kurt Beddoes, 31, of Hanford Avenue, Orrell Park pleaded guilty to both offences and has been sentenced to 17 years