FOUR armed robbers carried out a terrifying raid on a Dudley shop armed with an axe, a wooden club and a heavy spirit level.

The masked men charged into the Super Stop shop in Priory Road and began filling a holdall with cash, cigarettes and alcohol, said Jonathan Barker, prosecuting.

He said the niece of the shop's owner also had her handbag snatched, which contained her £1,000 holiday money and the key to her car.

The bag, said Mr Barker, was thrown to 20-year-old Aiden Jenkins who had not worn a mask, having acted as a lookout before the gang made their getaway in a Citroen car.

That vehicle was later found dumped near Wellington Road in Dudley, where some of the gang members changed their clothing before getting into a taxi.

But they were arrested when the taxi was surrounded by police officers who had swarmed the scene after being alerted by an eye-witness.

Brad Arnold, aged 20, of Beechwood Road, Kates Hill, dropped the stolen car key while 24-year-old Lee Pritchard, of Gloucester Road, Netherton, tried to conceal the stolen money.

The axe, masks and gloves were later recovered by the investigating police officers, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

Judge Simon Ward told the men it was clear the crime had been well planned adding: "It almost worked - but luckily for justice it did not."

Arnold and 19-year-old Kyle Dingley, of Victoria Road, Cradley Heath, both admitted robbery and possession of a bladed article and they were each jailed for six years, nine months.

Jenkins, of Hilary Drive, Warstones, Wolverhampton, and Pritchard both denied the two charges but they were convicted by a jury after they considered the evidence at the end of their trial.

Pritchard was put behind bars for 10 years, while Jenkins was sent into detention for seven years.