Two masked thugs who wielded a claw hammer and a knife during a pub raid have had their sentences increased.

Mark Roscaleer, aged 25, threatened to ‘smash’ one victim's skull before he and Karl Steinman, aged 31, snatched more than £6,300 from The Gunners Arms pub in Ellesmere Port in 2012.

Steinman, formerly from Cunningham Drive, Runcorn, was jailed for five years and Roscaleer, of no fixed abode, for four years at Chester Crown Court in March, after they both admitted aggravated burglary.

Three judges at London's Appeal Court upheld a bid by Solicitor General, Oliver Heald QC, to have the yobs' sentences increased..

Steinman must now serve nine years and nine months and Roscaleer faces seven years and four months.

They ruled on Tuesday, June 10 that their orignal sentences "unduly lenient".

Lady Justice Rafferty said the two men targeted the pub in the early hours of May 8, 2012, waking licensees, Sylvia Gladman and Steven Hill.

Roscaleer donned a balaclava and carried a claw hammer, while Steinman covered his face with a scarf and armed himself with a knife or screwdriver.

They demanded contents of the safe, with Roscaleer warning Mr Hill: "Get a move on or I'll smash your skull in."

They fled on a motorbike with £6,321.68, leaving the licensees in a state of petrified shock, the appeal judge said.

The raiders were found by police at another pub with most of the stolen cash.

Sentencing them, Judge Elgan Edwards branded the hold-up "pre-meditated and targeted", adding that it must have been a "terrifying experience" for the victims.

Roscaleer had 18 previous convictions, for 32 offences. Steinman had 21 convictions, for 58 offences.

Mr Heald said that Judge Edwards imposed sentences on the men that were far too lenient.

Steinman and Roscaleer's lawyers contended that the jail terms were not unreasonably lenient.

Judge Lady Justice Rafferty said: "These were grave offences, committed by individuals acting as a pair and armed. They occurred in the small hours, therefore, in the night."

Speaking afterwards, Mr Heald QC, said: "I asked the Court of Appeal to look again at these unduly lenient sentences as I believed they failed to reflect the seriousness of the offence and the fact that these violent men used weapons and deliberately targeted the public house.

“I am pleased that the Court of Appeal has increased the sentences and I hope this brings a degree of comfort to the victims of these terrible crimes.”