FIVE members of a gang have been sentenced over a plot to kidnap a man who stole £275,000 from a crime boss.

Following a police investigation – codenamed Pelican - the five men were arrested and charged with conspiracy to kidnap, one with having an offensive weapon.

They were sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday to a total of 17 years in jail for an elaborate plan to kidnap Accrington man, Hassan Akhtar.

Akhtar and his wife Amera, had been employed by the gang to transport criminal cash from the North West to Europe to launder the money.

But in August 2017, Akhtar stole a consignment of cash - £275,000 and went on the run, sparking the plot to kidnap him and retrieve the money.

Gang kingpin, Hanif Manjra, employed a former soldier and private investigator called Alexander Gibbons to track down Akhtar.

On August 25 2017, Gibbons and his associate John Powell entered a Travelodge on Burnley Lane in Oldham, where Akhtar and his family had checked in three days previous.

Posing as a police officer, Gibbons obtained the hotel’s guest list and a master key to all rooms.

Moments later he and Powell were seen dragging Akhtar through the reception and outside.

However, Akhtar, managed to escape.

The kidnap plot continued over the next two months with members of the gang using various sophisticated techniques, including the use of vehicle trackers to trace Akhtar’s movements as well as carrying out covert surveillance on him and his wife.

On October 10, Gibbons and another gang member were arrested whilst carrying out surveillance of Mrs Akhtar.

They were in a vehicle which was searched and police recovered a ‘kidnap kit’ consisting of knives, tear gas, a balaclava, a snood, silicone gloves, duct tape, cable ties, a paper suit, plastic sheets, a photograph of Akhtar, a UN security badge, a sword disguised as walking stick and a demolition bar.

Also recovered from the vehicle was a piece of notepaper, upon which there was a handwritten note, which read, ‘take target, tape mouth first, then hands, behind back, once in vehicle, tape legs'.

Gibbons and Thomas were arrested and following subsequent police enquiries, the arrests of the other members of the gang happened shortly after.

Both Akhtar, 50, and Amera Akhtar, 44, of Blackburn Road, Accrington, admitted money laundering offences in July last year.

Akhtar was jailed for 20 months and Amera Akhtar was given a 12-month community order.

Mohammed Hanif Anwar Manijra, 54, of Regent Drive, Fulwood was found guilty and sentenced to five years.

Alexander Paul Gibbons, 41, of Willow Street, Oswestry was found guilty and sentenced to four years.

Gulam Saiyed, 56. of Albatross Street, Preston was found guilty and sentenced to three years

Muhammed Junaid Amjad, 38, of Gurney Street, Croydon was found guilty and sentenced to three years.

John Michael Powell, 68, Woodlands Court, Leeds was found guilty and sentenced to two years suspended.

George Anthony Thomas, 63, of Welsh Walls, Oswestry was found not guilty.

All the above were charged with conspiracy to kidnap.

Alexander Gibbons was also charged with having an offensive weapon (cane sword).