A GANG of men and boys have been sentenced for a 'frightening spree' of armed robberies on convenience stores in Bradford.

The group targeted a string of stores, using an arsenal of weapons including a BB gun, machete, knives, meat cleaver and an axe to steal a host of items including cash, cigarettes and stamps.

Ismail Ahmed, 18; Anas Ahmed, 19, both of Cottam Terrace, Bradford, and Aidan Naveed, 18, of Waverley Terrace, Bradford, all jointly conspired together to rob stores in Bradford, Queensbury, Wilsden and Denholme over a period of months.

A 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also conspired with Ismail and Anas Ahmed and Naveed to commit some of the robberies.

The shop robberies followed the same pattern; a group of four or five men wearing dark clothing, gloves and balaclavas would enter the shop, demand money from the till, jump over the shop counter and fill a duvet, laundry bag, holdall or rucksack with cash, cigarettes or stamps.

On each occasion one of the men holding a weapon, usually an axe, would stay on guard at the front door of the shop, acting as a lookout, while the robbery was in progress.

The gang would then leave and drive off in a getaway car, Bradford Crown Court heard today.

Hundreds of pounds worth worth of items were taken in each of the robberies, which took place on a number of occasions between February and December 2019.

CCTV footage of each of the group's armed robberies was shown in court including one where a woman and a young girl were at the shop counter just before the gang entered to commit the robbery.

On one occasion one of the gang's getaway cars was spotted by police and a chase featuring speeds of up to 80mph followed in Denholme.

The shops targeted by the gang included Costcutter in Beacon Road, Buttershaw; Scholemoor Convenience Store; Co-op Stores, Fair Road, Wibsey; other Co-op stores in Queensbury, in Wilsden and another in School Street, Denholme.

Anas Ahmed was sentenced to six years and six months in a young offenders institution the two charges he faced for the two conspiracies to rob; the first between between February 2 and May 10, 2019 and the second charge between December 1 and 31, 2019.

Ismail Ahmed was sentenced to six years and three months in a young offenders institution for the same offences. He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months upon his release for dangerous driving after being involved in a police after one of the robberies.

Naveed was sentenced to five years and seven months in a young offenders institution for the same offences.

All three were told they will serve half of their respective sentences custody and then be released to serve the remainder out on licence.

The 17-year-old youth was sentenced to an 18-month detention and training order for his part in the conspiracies to rob.

A fifth defendant, Hamid Yameen, 19, of Clive Place, Bradford, was also sentenced for conspiracy to rob after he prepared one of the group's getaway cars that they used in one of the robberies, at a Cop-op in Wilsden on March 24, 2019. He was given a two-year community order, ordered to complete a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 300 hours unpaid work in the community.

One of the group's robberies proved unsuccessful. During a second attempt to rob from Costcutter in Beacon Road, the gang tried to enter the front door of the shop, but the shopkeeper was waiting inside the shop by the door and forced the door shut, stopping the men from entering and causing them to leave empty handed.

In mitigation, the court heard the defendant's ages and immaturity should be taken into account at the time of the robberies, with many of them being aged between 15 and 17.

All five of the group pleaded guilty to offences at previous hearings.

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Hatton told the group: "A significant number of substantive robberies occurred. They are wrapped up in two conspiracy to rob offences.

"The victims were undoubtedly terrified. It was a spree of robberies.

"Throughout customers and staff were frightened."