TWO men have been jailed after burgling a Prestwich mosque and leading police officers on a high speed car chase.

Dylan Brown, 26, and Morgan Parkinson, 37, both from Accrington, targeted the Masjid Bilal Islamic Centre in February this year, escaping with two safes and a sound recording system.

The pair then made a desperate attempt to drive back to Lancashire, reaching speeds of 108mph as they sped down the A56 with police vehicles and a helicopter in hot pursuit.

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, Lisa Boocock, prosecuting, said that at just after midnight on February 11, CCTV showed Brown and Parkinson using a concrete slab to smash through the mosque's windows.

Two safes were taken with around £2,600 in cash inside along with a prayer mat containing money and a sound system which officers believe the burglars thought was a CCTV system.

Officers began a pursuit of a Volkswagen Passat with dashcam footage from one of the police vehicles shown to the court.

The footage showed the Passat, which was driven by Brown, driving at high speed through snowy conditions back towards Accrington.

They eventually abandoned the car on Sandy Lane were they were later located by officers with dogs and helicopter assisting from the air.

Brown, of Moss Hall Road, Accrington, failed a roadside drug test for cannabis and Parkinson, of Within Grove, Accrington, was found with a balaclava and head torch along with a rucksack containing cash, 250 grams of cannabis worth around £1,550 and a set of scales.

The stolen safes were recovered from the back seat of the car where officers also found tools including a sledgehammer, axe and crowbar.

A victim personal statement was read out on behalf of the mosque which said: "This burglary has caused a great deal of upset and distress. We are a charity-based mosque which people donate to and it is a building where people come to pray.

"We don't understand why we were targeted: we help all religions and faiths and this will take some time for us to get over."

Ms Boocock added that Brown, who pleaded guilty to driving a motor vehicle dangerously, driving without insurance, driving while disqualified and burglary, had previous convictions for burglary while Parkinson, who pleaded guilty to burglary and possessing a Class B drug, cannabis, with intent to supply, had 28 previous convictions.

Defending both men, Brendan O'Leary, said that in 2019, Parkinson, a father of five, had been out walking with his son when they discovered the body of a woman who had been murdered.

"This triggered a radical destabilisation in his mental health," said Mr O'Leary. "He found himself slipping into a familiar pattern of using cannabis again and building up a debt which gave rise to why he was out committing a burglary."

Mr O'Leary added that Brown was a qualified joiner who had struggled in education but "was a man with ability with his hands".

Sentencing Parkinson to 16 months imprisonment and Brown to 14 months, Judge Bernadette Baxter said: "This mosque now has a feeling of being targeted, a feeling of vulnerability and a feeling of injustice as a religious organisation that the money they collect to do good in the community was taken in this way."

Brown will also be disqualified from driving for two years and seven months.