AGANG of armed robbers who tried to grab £100,000 in an ambush on post office security guards in Leigh are facing jail.

Balaclava-clad Patrick Claydon, 49, and Tommy Aitken, 38, armed themselves with a loaded doublebarrelled pump-action shotgun and a stun gun for the raid on the security van during daylight.

But detectives knew they were planning the raid and pounced on the two men before they could get away with any cash.

Getaway driver Sandra Clarke, 45, had been under surveillance for months as she bought a Ford Escort using a false name and repeatedly observed security guards depositing cash atBelfairs Post Office in Leigh.

When the raid happened, on November 13 last year, Clarke was waiting in a car nearby with changes of clothing for the two robbers, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard. Officers pounced when Aitken, armed with the shotgun, leapt out of the car and tried to storm the security van.

Claydon, himself brandishing a stun gun, fled the scene in a bid to evade capture, and after his eventual arrest another pump-action shotgun and ammunition was found at his home.

Timothy Hunter, prosecuting, said: “The defendants were arrested in the middle of a wellplanned armed robbery of a security van due to make a delivery to a post office.”

Clarke was arrested in the car.

The court heard the raid had been planned for more than six months, according to surveillance pictures of Clarke dating back to April 30 last year.

Aitken and Clarke have no previous convictions, but Claydon served eight years in 1993 for drugs-related offences.

The gang were due to be sentenced yesterday, but Judge Louise Korner was forced to adjourn the hearing because the senior barrister representing Aitken and Claydon did not show up to the hearing.

All three were remanded in custody until the sentencing resumes on April 16.

Claydon, of no fixed abode, and Aitken of Lyndhurst Drive, Hornchurch, admitted a single count of conspiracy to commit robbery and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence.

Clarke of Eastwood Road North, Leigh, admitted conspiracy to commit robbery and three counts of possession of controlled drugs.