Four men from Preston who staged an armed robbery have been jailed today.
On June 5, 2015 two men dressed in CSI suits entered Rishton Post Office in the High Street armed with a handgun.
They dragged the post master to the back room where they tied his hands and feet with cable ties.
The two men proceeded to empty the contents of the safe and ATM cash cassettes which contained over £185,000 in cash.
Enquiries soon revealed that the post master, Mohamed Iqbal, had been in contact with two of his associates, brothers Jason and Terry Yarwood, in the early hours of the morning on the day of the robbery when the rear CCTV camera at the Post Office had been disabled.
Telephone and ANPR evidence also showed that the Yarwood brothers had travelled from Preston to Rishton at the time the camera was disabled.
The investigation identified a further associate of the Yarwoods, Avaiz Samad, who had been recruited as the getaway driver.
Mohammed Iqbal, 33, of Maple Crescent and Terry Yarwood, 36, of Trafford Street, have both been sentenced to two years four months imprisonment.
Jason Yarwood, 40, of Deepdale Road was sentenced to two years 10 months imprisonment and Avaiz Samad, 23, of Blackpool Road, was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
In November 2016 Iqbal and the Yarwoods pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft on the day their trial was due to start at Burnley Crown Court.
Samad pleaded not guilty to the charge but was found guilty following a trial.
Detective inspector Simon Upton of Lancashire Police said: “Today’s sentences are the culmination of a long and complex investigation into what at first appeared to be a genuine armed robbery at the Post Office.
“While our enquiries soon established that the ‘robbery’ was in fact planned by Mohammed Iqbal who worked at the Post Office and his associates Jason and Terry Yarwood and Avaiz Samad, it must have been extremely frightening and unsettling for the local community at the time to hear reports of an armed robbery in their local area.
“I hope that today’s result brings the community some peace of mind now that those involved have been jailed.
“Although we disproved that it was a genuine armed robbery we still took the matter very seriously and left no stone unturned until those responsible were brought to justice.”
The defendants will be subject to proceeds of crime (POCA) proceedings in due course.