A MUSEUM curator whose rare van was stolen and used as a getaway vehicle on the night of the ram-raid is delighted the men responsible have been jailed.

Steve Knight says he has still not been able to fully repair the iconic red van which was all but written off after the incident in the early hours of August 7.

The van was stolen from a garage in Sudbury Road just before the gang smashed into the Co-op in Colchester Road.

Police eventually discovered it dumped in a field in Ridgewell.

More than a year on from the ram-raid, with the crooks now behind bars, Mr Knight, who runs the Colne Valley Postal History Museum in Head Street, has welcomed the punishments handed out.

He said: “I’m very pleased to see the hefty sentences handed down for what was essentially an anti-social crime.

“It had a big impact on the community and destroyed a building that people use on a daily basis.

“It disrupted lives and people lost money so it’s important that was reflected in the sentences.”

After spending nearly 20 years in storage, the museum van used in the ram-raid had just been fully restored to working order.

The restoration included adding full original Royal Mail livery of the period, and cost approximately £5,000.

It had been displayed just two days before the raid at a vehicle rally at Warwickshire’s British Motor Museum along with other classic Post Office, BT and GPO vehicles.

Mr Knight added: “My van is fixed now. It’s taken a whole year because some of the parts I needed are so rare.

“There are still a few bits and pieces which need sorting.

“It was a complete write-off because I think it was crashed into a lamp-post when they were making their getaway.

“The insurers have helped with some of the cost but I had to find about £3,000 for repairs.”

With the van now looking close to its best again, Mr Knight says it is due to appear on the front cover of the Classic Van & Pick Up magazine in the near future.