A gang has been jailed for more than 32 years over the theft of explosives from a freight train in Warrington.
Forty anti-tank mines owned by the ministry of defence were taken and hidden back in October whilst the men researched them online.
The mines - which only highly trained soldiers can used were recovered within days after an investigation by counter terror teams.
A court has heard how a gang of thieves stumbled upon a cargo of anti-tank mines when a train took an unscheduled stop near Warrington.
The high-grade military explosives, designed to breach compound walls and blow up tanks, were being transported from a Military of Defence storage site in Cumbria for use abroad.
Liverpool Crown Court heard the gang had intended to target an Asda depot in Dallam when they saw the train.40 mines went missing from one of the wagons last October.
28 were found in undergrowth nearby but 12 more were unaccounted for.
Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit launched an investigation.
Following a tip-off, they arrested Philip Yates, 29, athis home in Birkenhead.
Prosecuting barrister Lee Bonner told the court Mr Yates was "visibly shaking" and drew diagrams which lead officers to recover the missing mines.
Yates and Kris Black, 23, also from Birkenhead, and 30 year old David Smith of Boothwood Close in Liverpool all pleaded guilty to theft and possessing explosives.
Mr Smith was not in court as sentencing began this morning.
Three other men are being sentenced for handling stolen goods and possessing explosives.