Two members of an organised crime gang that organised high value cash raids have been jailed for 14 years each.

Thomas Bailey, 38, and Paul Anthony Oliver, 45, took nearly £30,000 from raids they carried out within a few months of each other.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that the men stormed a post office on NileStreet, North Shields, on January 10th last year and got away with £9,000.

On August 25th they raided the Salutation Inn pub in Tynemouth, NorthTyneside, and demanded access to the safe from the 40-year-old landlady.

The pair were accompanied by another man and made off with £20,000 of the pub's takings.

Christopher Knox, prosecuting, said that even though violence was not used, both men had crowbars and the threat of violence was present.

After the post office raid, Oliver and Bailey began scoping out variouscommercial premises in the North East, but Northumbria Police wascarrying out covert surveillance on the pair at the same time.

The gang used sophisticated surveillance equipment to watch securitydrivers delivering cash to convenience stores on North Tyneside and had been planning future raids before they were caught.

The police operation led to the arrest of the gang after the pub raid andOliver's wife, Joanne, and Bailey's younger sister weere arrested inconnection with the robberies.

Paul Oliver's wife, Joanne, was convicted of witness intimidation Credit: Northumbria Police

Oliver, of Watch House Close, North Shields, and Bailey, of Falstaff Road, North Shields, were sentenced to 14 years in prison with four years on extended license.

Mark Templeton, 46, of North Parade, Whitley Bay, who was found guilty ofrobbery and described as having a subsidiary role in the pub raid, wassentenced to six years in prison.

Bailey's younger sister, Melissa Bailey, 32, of Penman Place, NorthShields, was convicted of assisting an offender and handling a stolen number plate making machine. She pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court and was sentenced to 15 months suspended for two years.

Paul Oliver's wife Joanne Oliver, 42, of Verne Road, North Shields, hasbeen convicted with witness intimidation at Newcastle Crown Court. She was sentenced to 15 months suspended for two years.