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Home   Sheerness   News   Article

'Skull Cracker' Michael Wheatley caught after raid at Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames after fleeing Standford Hill prison

07 May 2014
by KentOnline reporter

The convicted robber known as the Skull Cracker has been caught after an armed raid in Surrey this morning.

Michael Wheatley - who fled Standford Hill open prison on Saturday - is no longer being sought by police.

Officers are said to be heading to London to bring him back to Kent.

Armed robber Michael Wheatley is known as the Skull Cracker

Armed robber Michael Wheatley is known as the Skull Cracker

A tweet released by Kent Police said they were "no longer looking for a 55-year-old man who failed to return to prison on 3 May.

"Two men are in custody in London."

It comes as police stand guard outside a Surrey building society amid claims of a link between the escaped convict and an armed robbery.

A cordon has been thrown around the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames after the raid at 10.20am.

Police are investigating links to captured fugitive Michael Wheatley.

Specialist firearms officers are at the scene of the incident.

A statement released by Kent Police this afternoon said two men had been arrested in East London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. 

Chelsea building society in Sunbury - scene of today's raid. Picture @redfogg

Chelsea building society in Sunbury - scene of today's raid. Picture @redfogg

It said: "At 2pm (this afternoon) two men, aged 55 and 53, were arrested in the Tower Hamlets area and are now in police custody. 

"The 55 year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large."

DCI Ann Lisseman from Kent Police said: ‘We are no longer looking for Michael Wheatley.

"We would like to thank our colleagues at Metropolitan Police Service, Surrey Police, and the public for their assistance with our enquiries."

It's believed a train timetable was found in Wheatley's cell after his escape, with the Sittingbourne to London route highlighted.

Helicopter looking for the Skull Cracker in Sunbury. Picture @jebbsinclair

Helicopter looking for the Skull Cracker in Sunbury. Picture @jebbsinclair

The armed raider in Surrey is said to have threatened a member of staff with a handgun before demanding money from a safe and escaping with cash.

The worker was left shaken but unhurt, but it's not yet known if the gun was real.

The raider's described as a white man, in his late 40s or early 50s, around six foot tall, slim to medium build, with short grey hair.

He fled on foot, but police aren't ruling out the possibility of a getaway car.

Michael Wheatley during an armed robbery

Michael Wheatley during an armed robbery

It comes after a Kent MP branded our justice system "soft" after the violent armed robber went on the run from the open prison.

Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson said he is "appalled" that Michael Wheatley was even allowed day release from HMP Standford Hill.

The government has ordered an urgent review after the 55-year-old went on temporary licence on Saturday and did not return.

A wing at Standford Hill open prison in Eastchurch on Sheppey

A wing at Standford Hill open prison in Eastchurch on Sheppey

Wheatley is serving 13 life sentences following a string of brutal raids on banks and building societies.

He raided 13 building societies and banks over 10 months in 2001 and 2002 while on parole from a 27-year sentence for other robberies.

He earned his nickname after pistol-whipping victims during the raids. He usually targeted lone, elderly women.

 

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