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Home   Sheerness   News   Article

Fugitive Kent prisoner 'Skullcracker' Michael Wheatley jailed for life over Surrey robbery while on run from HMP Standford Hill on Isle of Sheppey

29 May 2014
by KentOnline reporter

An armed robber dubbed the "Skullcracker" has today been jailed for life after admitting an armed robbery at a building society while on the run from a Kent prison.

Michael Wheatley, 55, was already serving 13 life sentences when he disappeared from HMP Standford Hill, on the Isle of Sheppey, for four days earlier this month.

He has now admitted a £13,000 raid on the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames while being hunted by Kent Police officers.

Michael Wheatley went missing from HMP Standford Hill

Michael Wheatley went missing from HMP Standford Hill

Wheatley appeared for a hearing at Guildford Crown Court this morning, where he pleaded guilty to robbery.

He also admitted possessing a firearm and being unlawfully at large. A judge told Wheatley he will serve at least 10 years in prison before being considered for parole.

A second man - 53-year-old Kevin Perry, from east London - is also charged with assisting an offender, perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods.

Perry did not enter any pleas and was remanded in custody until July 18.

Skull Cracker Michael Wheatley during an armed robbery

Skull Cracker Michael Wheatley during an armed robbery

A huge manhunt was launched when Wheatley failed to return to his open prison after being let out on day release on Saturday, May 3.

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

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

Police outside the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury after the raid. Picture SWNS.comTony Kershaw

Police outside the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury after the raid. Picture: SWNS.com/Tony Kershaw

He carried out 13 raids 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.

Wheatley was finally held by officers in Mile End, east London, on Wednesday, May 7.

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