Has Skull Cracker struck again?

Daily Echo: Has Skull Cracker struck again? Has Skull Cracker struck again?

Police are investigating whether a fugitive armed robber known as the ''Skull Cracker'' has struck again.

Michael Wheatley, 55, went missing when he was released on a temporary licence from an open prison in Kent on Saturday, and has since been seen in Twickenham, south west London.

Today a branch of the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, was robbed, and Surrey and Kent Police are trying to find out whether Wheatley is the culprit.

He was given 13 life sentences in 2002 for a series of brutal raids on banks, and is one of more than 1,200 open prison inmates serving an indeterminate sentence.

He was ordered to serve a minimum of eight years before being eligible for consideration for parole.

A spokeswoman for Surrey Police said: ''At 10.20am today Surrey Police responded to reports of an armed robbery at a building society in Sunbury. The incident took place at the Chelsea Building Society at The Parade, Staines Road.

''Officers including specialist firearms officers are currently at the scene. Anyone with information or who witnessed the incident and has not already spoken to police should call 101.

''The investigation is in its early stages. We are carrying out numerous inquiries to identify the offender and have linked in with Kent Police as part of these inquiries.''

Wheatley was released on a temporary licence from HMP Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, and is thought to have boarded the 9.20am high speed train from Sittingbourne, which was heading to Stratford International station.

Police were called when he failed to return to the prison at 6pm and a specialist team of officers, headed by Detective Chief Inspector Ann Lisseman, pieced together a timeline of his movements since his disappearance.

There was a confirmed sighting of Wheatley at 7.55pm on Monday in the Strawberry Hill area of Twickenham, and several homes were searched but he was not found.

Kent Police said Wheatley, who earned his nickname after pistol-whipping victims, including a 73-year-old woman, has connections in Ireland, Cheshire and North Wales.

Earlier Sir David Calvert-Smith, chair of the Parole Board, which carries out risk assessments on prisoners to determine whether they can be safely released into the community, defended the decision to allow Wheatley out on day release.

''I think putting all prisoners in open conditions is an essential step to their integration. Otherwise, we as a society simply have to put up with paying for their accommodation in prison for the rest of their lives,'' he told BBC Breakfast.

''There has got to be a system which manages the transition from prison to the outside world.''

Sir David said ''decisions are not taken lightly'' if a prisoner tells the board they have left their violent past behind them.

''We cross-examine the prisoner to see if he's simply paying lip service,'' he said.

''What we are not testing is whether he is likely to escape. What we are concerned with is the risk to the public of serious further crime.''

There are currently only 45 to 50 people who are condemned to serve whole-life sentences, meaning that every other prisoner is forecast to be released at some stage, he added.

A spokesman for Kent Police said: ''Officers searching for Michael Wheatley are aware of a robbery which took place today at a building society in the Surrey Police area. Kent Police is working closely with the Metropolitan Police Service and Surrey Police as part of ongoing inquiries.''

Comments (6)

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1:27pm Wed 7 May 14

itsnotjustice says...

why is this fool the top story for the third day in a row....?? he robbed some places in the area years ago... also , all the news reporting what area he was seen in is stupid.. its just going to give him an excuse to move on.
why is this fool the top story for the third day in a row....?? he robbed some places in the area years ago... also , all the news reporting what area he was seen in is stupid.. its just going to give him an excuse to move on. itsnotjustice
  • Score: 2

1:28pm Wed 7 May 14

Gloster says...

"He was given 13 life sentences in 2002 for a series of brutal raids on banks,"

"He was ordered to serve a minimum of eight years before being eligible for consideration for parole."

These "Life" sentences....are they based on the Adult Mayfly life cycle????
"He was given 13 life sentences in 2002 for a series of brutal raids on banks," "He was ordered to serve a minimum of eight years before being eligible for consideration for parole." These "Life" sentences....are they based on the Adult Mayfly life cycle???? Gloster
  • Score: 11

1:35pm Wed 7 May 14

kiddynamite says...

So a dangerous bank robber who gets 13 life sentences is then housed in a open prison? This country gets better every day!
So a dangerous bank robber who gets 13 life sentences is then housed in a open prison? This country gets better every day! kiddynamite
  • Score: 4

2:16pm Wed 7 May 14

Linesman says...

itsnotjustice wrote:
why is this fool the top story for the third day in a row....?? he robbed some places in the area years ago... also , all the news reporting what area he was seen in is stupid.. its just going to give him an excuse to move on.
"it's just going to give him an excuse to move on."

Maybe that is why The Echo is carrying the story, so that banks, building societies and shops in the area are on the alert.
[quote][p][bold]itsnotjustice[/bold] wrote: why is this fool the top story for the third day in a row....?? he robbed some places in the area years ago... also , all the news reporting what area he was seen in is stupid.. its just going to give him an excuse to move on.[/p][/quote]"it's just going to give him an excuse to move on." Maybe that is why The Echo is carrying the story, so that banks, building societies and shops in the area are on the alert. Linesman
  • Score: 2

3:14pm Wed 7 May 14

Paramjit Bahia says...

Linesman wrote:
itsnotjustice wrote:
why is this fool the top story for the third day in a row....?? he robbed some places in the area years ago... also , all the news reporting what area he was seen in is stupid.. its just going to give him an excuse to move on.
"it's just going to give him an excuse to move on."

Maybe that is why The Echo is carrying the story, so that banks, building societies and shops in the area are on the alert.
Or with bit of luck may discourage the highly dangerous criminal from heading for Hampshire.

Principle of trying to integrate prisoners back into society is not bad idea, BUT in cases like this serious questions must be asked, as this guy had plenty of criminal record even before being sentenced to not one or two but many life sentences. Society has to face the hard reality that while in most cases it may be possible to convert criminals into decent citizens, in cases like these it may not be possible. So hope he gets captured and locked up for good like few others.
[quote][p][bold]Linesman[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]itsnotjustice[/bold] wrote: why is this fool the top story for the third day in a row....?? he robbed some places in the area years ago... also , all the news reporting what area he was seen in is stupid.. its just going to give him an excuse to move on.[/p][/quote]"it's just going to give him an excuse to move on." Maybe that is why The Echo is carrying the story, so that banks, building societies and shops in the area are on the alert.[/p][/quote]Or with bit of luck may discourage the highly dangerous criminal from heading for Hampshire. Principle of trying to integrate prisoners back into society is not bad idea, BUT in cases like this serious questions must be asked, as this guy had plenty of criminal record even before being sentenced to not one or two but many life sentences. Society has to face the hard reality that while in most cases it may be possible to convert criminals into decent citizens, in cases like these it may not be possible. So hope he gets captured and locked up for good like few others. Paramjit Bahia
  • Score: 0

4:00pm Wed 7 May 14

dango says...

he's been caught now so we can put it to bed
http://www.bbc.co.uk
/news/uk-england-273
15001
he's been caught now so we can put it to bed http://www.bbc.co.uk /news/uk-england-273 15001 dango
  • Score: 0

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