A BUNGLING trio who tried four times to rob a St Neots store but failed after each attempt have been jailed for a total of more than 14 years.

Liam Darrington, 19, Elnan Noval, 20, recruited Benjamin Hall, 20, who worked at One Stop shop in Berkley Street, and plotted to rob the store at gunpoint.

However, despite repeated attempts, the gang never carried out the planned hold-up.

Two men with a holdall and a gun were caught on CCTV loitering outside the shop on July 28. The men tried again the following day before making a third attempt to carry out the raid on August 4 - and were again caught on camera.

When the men returned on the morning of August 9, they were spotted by a concerned member of the public who called police.

Officers headed to the scene and stopped their car. They found a robbery 'kit', including balaclavas, paintball guns, an imitation firearm and a knife.

Hall and Noval were arrested, but Darrington managed to run off. He was arrested two days later

Darrington, of The Broad Walk, Eynesbury, and Hall, of Whitehall Walk, St Neots, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.

Darrington also admitted escaping from lawful custody.

Noval, of Andrew Road, Eynesbury, admitted conspiracy but denied the firearms charge, however was convicted following a trial.

At Peterborough Crown Court yesterday, Noval was jailed for five-and-a-half years, Hall was locked up for four years and eight months while Darrington was locked up for four years.

Detective Constable Hollie Daines, who led the investigation, said: "These three were caught red-handed after a member of the public reported suspicious activity near to the store. If it hadn't been for them and the fast response time of the officers, we may have never caught them before they carried out the armed robbery.

"The ongoing attempts to rob the store left the staff in constant fear for their safety. It was horrifying for them to find out that a colleague, who knew of their terror, was involved in the plan to carry out the robbery."