HALF a million pounds stolen by a Italian Job-style gang who blew up series of cash machines across the country has never been recovered.

Now Judge Alan Conrad QC has jailed the "arrogant, skilled, determined and ruthless" gang of seven behind the ATM attacks for more than a 100 years in total.

The group who were caught in a police shootout in Angus, toured the UK in high performance cars, caused gas explosions and dragged out cashpoints using heavy vehicles to steal around £500,000.

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Using transporters to live in, the gang transformed vehicles into "high speed mobile bombs" to hide their luxury getaway cars, which included Audi RS4’s, RS6’s and Mercedes A45, and explosive devices.

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The group led police chases in the stolen-to-order sports cars, reaching speeds of 150mph, using motorway hard shoulders and country lanes in raids across the country before driving to safety up ramps into the back of a lorry. Among the targets were ATMs in Newtonhill and Kingswell in Aberdeenshire and in Perth.

CCTV footage showed the impact of the life-threatening explosions, which left banks covered in shards of metal and smashed glass.

Judge Conrad said: "No doubt you were attracted by the thrill of organising and carrying out these offences - by acquiring and driving expensive high performance cars - the identification and reconnaissance of suitable targets - the putting in place of men and equipment - the high speed chases and the attempts to stay one step ahead of the police.

"And then there was the money which has not been found, very considerable sums which enabled you to live comfortably without any honest work.

"The overwhelming impression that remains with me is one of breathtaking arrogance on your part."

During their year long campaign - which left a £160,000 trail of destruction - the thieves transported canisters of acetylene, oxygen, fuel and heavy cutting equipment in expensive vehicles they had stolen to target 13 cash machines in Scotland and England.

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The high powered luxury vehicles they stole for their fleet were estimated to be worth more than £320,000 and were used to enable the gang, using false registration plates, to cause "untold damage and distress" to the rural communities whose cash machines they destroyed, said prosecutor Ian Unsworth QC.

In a raid at the Co-op in Carnoustie, Angus, last February, which proved to be their last, they sawed through the roller-shutter doors, then dragged the ATM out using a Landrover defender and straps, escaping with £16,000.

The gang was finally captured in a dramatic showdown in the car park of Arbroath’s McDonalds fast food restaurant last February, just hours after the Carnoustie raid.

Despite an officer pointing his firearm at the driver the gang reversed into the police vehicle and an officer used a shotgun to blow out one of the tyres - as notes from the Carnoustie machine littered the footwell of the getaway car.

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Green, who heads up the North West Regional Crime Unit (TITAN), said: "This is the culmination of an extensive 12-month investigation into crimes involving thefts from cashpoint machines across and throughout the UK and a number of burglaries at residential properties."

"These individuals believed they were untouchable and they used dangerous tactics in targeting ATM's, which clearly put members of the public at risk. The techniques used by the men involved in these attacks were extremely risky and we are fortunate that no-one was hurt."

Andrew White, 28, of St Helens was jailed for 19 years, Miah, 28, of Birmingham, was given a life sentence, Anthony White, 26, of Huyton, was jailed for 16 years; Carl Cavanagh, 33, of Huyton, for 11 years; Anthony Conroy, 29, of Wavertree, for 12 years; Galea, 41, of Prescot, 15 years; Carey, 40, of Tuebrook - who was only involved in one raid - received 10 years.

Cavanagh and Conroy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause explosions and conspiracy to burgle but their co-accused were convicted of both conspiracies.