Michael Wheatley, dubbed 'the Skull Cracker', on the run from prison

Michael Wheatley, dubbed

Michael Wheatley, dubbed "the Skull Cracker"

First published in News
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Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by

A VIOLENT armed robber dubbed “the Skull Cracker” who has gone missing after temporarily being allowed out of prison struck in Hampshire.

Michael Wheatley, 55, who was given 13 life sentences in 2002 for a string of brutal raids on banks, failed to return to HMP Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent Police said.

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

The robberies between June 2001 and April the following year were mainly on small branches in areas Wheatley knew.

He earned his notorious nickname after pistol-whipping victims, including a 73-year-old woman, during the raids.

The first was just three weeks after he was paroled from his first prison term.

The Old Bailey heard at the time he would often grab a female customer, putting the pistol to their head, leaving many mentally anguished.

His raids netted him more than £45,000.

He was given a five-year sentence on each of the firearm offences to run concurrently with the life sentences on each of the robbery charges. He was ordered to serve a minimum of eight years before being eligible for consideration for parole.

The court was told how he robbed a clerk at the Bishop's Waltham branch of Halifax building society at gunpoint.

Kathleen Knights told the Daily Echo how Wheatley pointed the gun inches from her face before demanding the cash and escaping with an undisclosed sum.

Mrs Knights had to be taken to Southampton General Hospital after Wheatley hit her on the back of the head with the gun as he made his escape.

A Kent Police spokesman said: ''Anyone with any information or who sees Wheatley is asked to not approach him and to instead contact police by calling 999.''

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

Wheatley admitted 13 charges of robbery and 13 of possessing an imitation firearm - a blank firing semi-automatic pistol - in October 2002.

Conservative backbencher Philip Davies said that whoever had allowed Wheatley out of prison was ''a berk'' and questioned why he was in an open prison in the first place.

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.

''The top priority for the prison service should be the protection of the public. (Justice Secretary) Chris Grayling needs to put in charge of the prison service someone who will see protection of the public as a top priority.''

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.''

The Ministry of Justice has promised a full review of the case.

Comments (28)

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8:27am Mon 5 May 14

CHARLIE TAYLOR says...

13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?
13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion? CHARLIE TAYLOR
  • Score: 42

8:39am Mon 5 May 14

mickey01 says...

CHARLIE TAYLOR wrote:
13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?
probably his human rights were effected , that seems to be the excuse these days
[quote][p][bold]CHARLIE TAYLOR[/bold] wrote: 13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?[/p][/quote]probably his human rights were effected , that seems to be the excuse these days mickey01
  • Score: 28

9:06am Mon 5 May 14

userds5050 says...

CHARLIE TAYLOR wrote:
13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?
We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.
[quote][p][bold]CHARLIE TAYLOR[/bold] wrote: 13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?[/p][/quote]We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society. userds5050
  • Score: 3

9:27am Mon 5 May 14

SOULJACKER says...

userds5050 wrote:
CHARLIE TAYLOR wrote:
13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?
We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.
Well, he certainly 'integrated' in to society didn't, in fact he is so 'Integrated' that nobody knows where in the hell he actually is??
If you put them away for thirteen life sentences he should be left in jail.
This smacks of 'do gooders' that shop at 'Marks & Spencers' & wear cream corduroys & 'Hushpuppies'.
LIFE SHOULD MEAN LIFE!
[quote][p][bold]userds5050[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]CHARLIE TAYLOR[/bold] wrote: 13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?[/p][/quote]We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.[/p][/quote]Well, he certainly 'integrated' in to society didn't, in fact he is so 'Integrated' that nobody knows where in the hell he actually is?? If you put them away for thirteen life sentences he should be left in jail. This smacks of 'do gooders' that shop at 'Marks & Spencers' & wear cream corduroys & 'Hushpuppies'. LIFE SHOULD MEAN LIFE! SOULJACKER
  • Score: 29

9:45am Mon 5 May 14

derek james says...

if a perfect example were needed of how this country has practically been destroyed by the liberal-left over the years this is it
if a perfect example were needed of how this country has practically been destroyed by the liberal-left over the years this is it derek james
  • Score: 17

9:46am Mon 5 May 14

userds5050 says...

SOULJACKER wrote:
userds5050 wrote:
CHARLIE TAYLOR wrote:
13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?
We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.
Well, he certainly 'integrated' in to society didn't, in fact he is so 'Integrated' that nobody knows where in the hell he actually is??
If you put them away for thirteen life sentences he should be left in jail.
This smacks of 'do gooders' that shop at 'Marks & Spencers' & wear cream corduroys & 'Hushpuppies'.
LIFE SHOULD MEAN LIFE!
No, you're right. A prison service spokesman told the BBC prisoners will now be tagged when they're let out for the day. Phew!
[quote][p][bold]SOULJACKER[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]userds5050[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]CHARLIE TAYLOR[/bold] wrote: 13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?[/p][/quote]We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.[/p][/quote]Well, he certainly 'integrated' in to society didn't, in fact he is so 'Integrated' that nobody knows where in the hell he actually is?? If you put them away for thirteen life sentences he should be left in jail. This smacks of 'do gooders' that shop at 'Marks & Spencers' & wear cream corduroys & 'Hushpuppies'. LIFE SHOULD MEAN LIFE![/p][/quote]No, you're right. A prison service spokesman told the BBC prisoners will now be tagged when they're let out for the day. Phew! userds5050
  • Score: 6

10:23am Mon 5 May 14

SOULJACKER says...

userds5050 wrote:
SOULJACKER wrote:
userds5050 wrote:
CHARLIE TAYLOR wrote:
13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?
We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.
Well, he certainly 'integrated' in to society didn't, in fact he is so 'Integrated' that nobody knows where in the hell he actually is??
If you put them away for thirteen life sentences he should be left in jail.
This smacks of 'do gooders' that shop at 'Marks & Spencers' & wear cream corduroys & 'Hushpuppies'.
LIFE SHOULD MEAN LIFE!
No, you're right. A prison service spokesman told the BBC prisoners will now be tagged when they're let out for the day. Phew!
So...........What good will that do their next victim?
Our judicial system is worthy of nothing but ridicule now, a little old lady who can't afford her 'council tax' will probably get a worse sentence than this scumbag!
[quote][p][bold]userds5050[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SOULJACKER[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]userds5050[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]CHARLIE TAYLOR[/bold] wrote: 13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?[/p][/quote]We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.[/p][/quote]Well, he certainly 'integrated' in to society didn't, in fact he is so 'Integrated' that nobody knows where in the hell he actually is?? If you put them away for thirteen life sentences he should be left in jail. This smacks of 'do gooders' that shop at 'Marks & Spencers' & wear cream corduroys & 'Hushpuppies'. LIFE SHOULD MEAN LIFE![/p][/quote]No, you're right. A prison service spokesman told the BBC prisoners will now be tagged when they're let out for the day. Phew![/p][/quote]So...........What good will that do their next victim? Our judicial system is worthy of nothing but ridicule now, a little old lady who can't afford her 'council tax' will probably get a worse sentence than this scumbag! SOULJACKER
  • Score: 12

10:26am Mon 5 May 14

SOULJACKER says...

derek james wrote:
if a perfect example were needed of how this country has practically been destroyed by the liberal-left over the years this is it
Yep, you are completely right & I don't think they are through with their medalling yet either.
[quote][p][bold]derek james[/bold] wrote: if a perfect example were needed of how this country has practically been destroyed by the liberal-left over the years this is it[/p][/quote]Yep, you are completely right & I don't think they are through with their medalling yet either. SOULJACKER
  • Score: 9

10:28am Mon 5 May 14

Kirsty666 says...

13 life sentences the parole board need shooting!
13 life sentences the parole board need shooting! Kirsty666
  • Score: 10

10:29am Mon 5 May 14

Kirsty666 says...

userds5050 wrote:
CHARLIE TAYLOR wrote:
13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?
We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.
They could all do with being hung drawn and quartered!
[quote][p][bold]userds5050[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]CHARLIE TAYLOR[/bold] wrote: 13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?[/p][/quote]We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.[/p][/quote]They could all do with being hung drawn and quartered! Kirsty666
  • Score: 9

11:00am Mon 5 May 14

BeyondImagination says...

Life sentences should be consecutive.
Life sentences should be consecutive. BeyondImagination
  • Score: 9

11:07am Mon 5 May 14

Crazywolf says...

The real problem is our softness i this country. We make sentences concurrent, when they should be consecutive like in the US.

Thirteen consecutive life sentences - should be out, with good behaviour, in about 8 lifetimes!
The real problem is our softness i this country. We make sentences concurrent, when they should be consecutive like in the US. Thirteen consecutive life sentences - should be out, with good behaviour, in about 8 lifetimes! Crazywolf
  • Score: 12

12:04pm Mon 5 May 14

Mary80 says...

What bloody numpty allows a known VIOLENT offender to pop out of prison? *Face palm*
What bloody numpty allows a known VIOLENT offender to pop out of prison? *Face palm* Mary80
  • Score: 4

12:29pm Mon 5 May 14

richard57 says...

this is why we should all vote UKIP.
this is why we should all vote UKIP. richard57
  • Score: -1

1:00pm Mon 5 May 14

Linesman says...

With his record, why was he out on day release?
With his record, why was he out on day release? Linesman
  • Score: 2

2:35pm Mon 5 May 14

sass says...

As a dangerous offender he should not be eligible for parole. If pressure on the gaols requires his release he should be micro-chipped, such that his exact location is known at all times.
As a dangerous offender he should not be eligible for parole. If pressure on the gaols requires his release he should be micro-chipped, such that his exact location is known at all times. sass
  • Score: 4

3:01pm Mon 5 May 14

Inform Al says...

sass wrote:
As a dangerous offender he should not be eligible for parole. If pressure on the gaols requires his release he should be micro-chipped, such that his exact location is known at all times.
In 2015 in Wales and 2016 in England all dogs will need to be micro-chipped. On the 7th July they are doing free micro-chipping on the common or sports ground, not sure which. Perhaps the prison service could take advantage of this.
[quote][p][bold]sass[/bold] wrote: As a dangerous offender he should not be eligible for parole. If pressure on the gaols requires his release he should be micro-chipped, such that his exact location is known at all times.[/p][/quote]In 2015 in Wales and 2016 in England all dogs will need to be micro-chipped. On the 7th July they are doing free micro-chipping on the common or sports ground, not sure which. Perhaps the prison service could take advantage of this. Inform Al
  • Score: 5

3:07pm Mon 5 May 14

georgetheseventh says...

The so-called justice system in this country is crazy. No wonder every Kn*bend in the world wants to move here.
The so-called justice system in this country is crazy. No wonder every Kn*bend in the world wants to move here. georgetheseventh
  • Score: 4

3:09pm Mon 5 May 14

georgetheseventh says...

userds5050 wrote:
CHARLIE TAYLOR wrote:
13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?
We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.
But he was out..walking about.
[quote][p][bold]userds5050[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]CHARLIE TAYLOR[/bold] wrote: 13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?[/p][/quote]We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.[/p][/quote]But he was out..walking about. georgetheseventh
  • Score: 1

4:18pm Mon 5 May 14

sparkster says...

It beggars belief, why on earth was he in an open prison, this scum should never be allowed to "integrate" into society
It beggars belief, why on earth was he in an open prison, this scum should never be allowed to "integrate" into society sparkster
  • Score: 4

4:53pm Mon 5 May 14

Gristy says...

You lot in Britain have gone bark staring crazy. When this gets out to the rest of the world as it surely will, it will just prove what everyone thought. The British have lost it...poor Brits but mark you, you deserve it by voting in wishy-whasy governments and allowing the chattering. left wing, partly educated classes to run the show!
You lot in Britain have gone bark staring crazy. When this gets out to the rest of the world as it surely will, it will just prove what everyone thought. The British have lost it...poor Brits but mark you, you deserve it by voting in wishy-whasy governments and allowing the chattering. left wing, partly educated classes to run the show! Gristy
  • Score: 4

4:54pm Mon 5 May 14

IronLady2010 says...

It's time our justice system was over-hauled. As criminals are growing, surely the system needs to change to fight this.

The Police spend many hours catching the criminals which costs us money, then they go before a Court and the judge gives them for example 1 year, they get released after 6 months and carry on committing crime. The Judge is also costing us money.

Then they go to prison costing us money again for the luxuries.

Surely with crime increasing throughout the world it's time to toughen up.

If some one gets a year they should serve a year, no early release!

If we had more prison Cells available that would be far cheaper than the Police going round and round in circles chasing the same people.

If we don't clamp down soon, the world will just be full of criminals, as they know they will get away with it, we need to tighten up.
It's time our justice system was over-hauled. As criminals are growing, surely the system needs to change to fight this. The Police spend many hours catching the criminals which costs us money, then they go before a Court and the judge gives them for example 1 year, they get released after 6 months and carry on committing crime. The Judge is also costing us money. Then they go to prison costing us money again for the luxuries. Surely with crime increasing throughout the world it's time to toughen up. If some one gets a year they should serve a year, no early release! If we had more prison Cells available that would be far cheaper than the Police going round and round in circles chasing the same people. If we don't clamp down soon, the world will just be full of criminals, as they know they will get away with it, we need to tighten up. IronLady2010
  • Score: 4

4:54pm Mon 5 May 14

userds5050 says...

georgetheseventh wrote:
userds5050 wrote:
CHARLIE TAYLOR wrote:
13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?
We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.
But he was out..walking about.
Yeah, and he would have been out walking about soon once he'd been released. The idea thenoutside world isn't such a shock once the offender is released. I'm not saying I agree with it but it doesn't help MPs like Phillip Davies coming out with hysterical comments like he has.
[quote][p][bold]georgetheseventh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]userds5050[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]CHARLIE TAYLOR[/bold] wrote: 13 life sentances !!! what on earth was he doing in an open prion?[/p][/quote]We've had this before. He was eligible for parol after 8 years. He's been inside for 12. Prisoners nearing the end of a long sentence (even murderers) are moved to an open prison to help integrate them into society.[/p][/quote]But he was out..walking about.[/p][/quote]Yeah, and he would have been out walking about soon once he'd been released. The idea thenoutside world isn't such a shock once the offender is released. I'm not saying I agree with it but it doesn't help MPs like Phillip Davies coming out with hysterical comments like he has. userds5050
  • Score: 1

7:53pm Mon 5 May 14

Block 42 says...

remember...its not a white man being hunted..its a man who is of not much color and shading toward a creamy hessian.
remember...its not a white man being hunted..its a man who is of not much color and shading toward a creamy hessian. Block 42
  • Score: 0

8:12pm Mon 5 May 14

Reality-man says...

Anyone else want to state the obvious?
Anyone else want to state the obvious? Reality-man
  • Score: 0

10:32pm Mon 5 May 14

Linesman says...

Is my memory correct?

Didn't Cameron promise that he would be 'Tough on Crime'?
Is my memory correct? Didn't Cameron promise that he would be 'Tough on Crime'? Linesman
  • Score: 1

11:22pm Mon 5 May 14

BeyondImagination says...

Hopefully he will be caught quickly without causing harm to anyone. That way his actions will make sure he remains properly secured for several more years.
Hopefully he will be caught quickly without causing harm to anyone. That way his actions will make sure he remains properly secured for several more years. BeyondImagination
  • Score: 2

10:11am Tue 6 May 14

southamptonadi says...

Parole board is not fit for purpose and should be fired, maybe they should be elected positions.

He has a 26 year sentence, is released by the parole board and commits 13 violent armed robberies, then after twelve years into a life sentence is put in an open prison ready. For his release probably by the parole board. And commits Moore violent armed robberies.

When will the learn that some people just can't be fixed. How do parole boards decide he is ready to be released. Should not be automatic but should involve intensive interviews and test and psychology reports.

Does this mean he will now have to finish his life sentence without parole as he has basically escaped from prison.
Parole board is not fit for purpose and should be fired, maybe they should be elected positions. He has a 26 year sentence, is released by the parole board and commits 13 violent armed robberies, then after twelve years into a life sentence is put in an open prison ready. For his release probably by the parole board. And commits Moore violent armed robberies. When will the learn that some people just can't be fixed. How do parole boards decide he is ready to be released. Should not be automatic but should involve intensive interviews and test and psychology reports. Does this mean he will now have to finish his life sentence without parole as he has basically escaped from prison. southamptonadi
  • Score: 0

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