UK & World News

  • 7 May 2014, 20:29

Skull Cracker: Police Catch Michael Wheatley

The hunt for escaped prisoner Michael Wheatley has ended after police captured the convicted armed robber.

The 55-year-old, who earned his nickname for pistol-whipping victims, was being sought following his failure to return to HMP Standford Hill - an open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent - after being temporarily released.

But a statement issued by Kent Police said the force had, in partnership with officers from the Metropolitan Police, arrested two men in east London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

The statement said the pair, aged 55 and 53, were arrested in the Tower Hamlets area and are now in police custody.

It added the 55-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large.

Detective Chief Inspector Ann Lisseman said: "We're no longer looking for Michael Wheatley. We'd like to thank our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police and Surrey Police, as well as the public, for their assistance with our enquiries."

The arrests come after an armed robbery on Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames on Wednesday morning.

Wheatley was first jailed in the 1980s for nine years for a post office raid but escaped in 1988 when he was given permission to go to hospital and did not return.

He then carried out nine armed robberies and was jailed again in 1989.

Three years later, authorities released him to go to the optician and he went on the run again, carrying out eight robberies for which he was jailed for seven years.

He was released on parole in 2001 and within weeks was staging a series of raids on banks.

Prosecutors said he returned to a life of crime after a relationship with a woman he met while in custody ran into trouble, and she spent his money and ran up debts.

During his trial at the Old Bailey it emerged that, when asked his occupation by a custody officer, he had replied: "Armed robber."

Wheatley was ordered to serve 13 life sentences in 2002, with a minimum term of eight years.

There had been a confirmed sighting of him in Twickenham on Monday.

Several homes were searched but he was not found.

Advertisement