UK & World News

  • 5 May 2014, 13:35

Violent Armed Robber 'Skull Cracker' On The Run

A violent armed robber dubbed "The Skull Cracker" who is serving 13 life sentences has gone missing after temporarily being allowed out of prison on licence.

Michael Wheatley earned his notorious nickname after pistol-whipping victims during raids on banks and building societies, stealing around £45,000.

The 55-year-old carried out 13 raids in total between June 2001 and April 2002 in branches from Southampton in Hampshire to Royston in Hertfordshire.

He was on parole from a 27-year sentence for other robberies at the time and was jailed at the Old Bailey in October 2002 after admitting 13 charges of robbery and 13 of possessing an imitation firearm - a blank firing semi-automatic pistol.

A manhunt is under way after he failed to return to HMP Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey.

Anyone who sees him has been warned not to approach him and to contact police.

A Kent Police spokesman said Wheatley, originally of Limehouse in east London, has links across south east England.

Conservative backbencher Philip Davies said that whoever had allowed Wheatley out of prison was "a berk" and should be sacked.

The MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire said: "It is completely ludicrous that a serving life sentence prisoner is even in an open prison where they can simply walk out.

"As far as I am concerned whoever allowed him to be in an open prison should be sacked, it is a complete disgrace."

A Prison Service spokesman said: "This is now a matter for the police and we are supporting them in their investigation.

"We are toughening up the release on temporary licence scheme so that prisoners will be subject to stricter risk assessments and tagged."

 

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