A thief who took part in a raid where a petrol station was blown up causing £165,000 of damage has been jailed for three and a half years.

The Texaco filling station at Weyhill in Hampshire was devastated after the gang pumped oxygen and propane gas into a cash machine to blow it open.

The damage to the petrol station cost £150,000 to repair and the £15,000 cash machine was destroyed in the blast.

Bank notes worth £20,000 were strewn across the ground, but the thieves managed to scoop up just £3,400 before making their getaway.

At Winchester Crown Court, Damien Limb, 27, was convicted of conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to cause criminal damage with unknown persons. His three accomplices have not been traced.

The court was told Limb was traced using CCTV from a filling station in Bristol after police found a receipt for water and a small amount of petrol from the garage.

Richard Onslow, defending, said Limb, who has a string of previous convictions for burglary and attacking cash machines, had only provided transport for the gang.

He had driven three others and canisters of oxygen and propane to the garage, remaining in the van, and while he knew some damage would be caused to the ATM, he did not expect the blast that occurred.

Onslow added: “As he waited in the van he heard the explosion and the others returned. The defendant is not the leading light in this conspiracy but he accepts he was wrong by becoming involved in it.”

Speaking after the case, detective constable Paul Harfield added: “The gang is fortunate to be alive because they had no control over that explosion and they could have hurt others.”