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“Skull Cracker” robber sighted in London

14th May 2014

“Skull Cracker” robber Michael Wheatley, who absconded from an open prison, has been seen in London.

Police were called to an address in Twickenham in south-west London last week, but did not find the criminal.  Wheatley, 55, was given 13 life sentences in 2002 for a string of raids on banks and building societies.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said he wanted to ensure that there were proper risk assessments in place before Wheatley was transferred to an open prison.

Kent Police said he failed to return to HMP Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey after being allowed out.

Wheatley was jailed after going on 13 raids over a 10-month period in 2001 and 2002, while on parole from a 27-year sentence for other robberies.  He was given the name of “Skull Cracker” for pistol-whipping victims during the raids.

His robberies took place over an area from Southampton to Royston, Hertfordshire.

While sentencing Wheatley at the Old Bailey for the robberies and for possession of an imitation firearm, Judge Michael Mettyear told him he could be considered for parole after eight years.

On Monday, Conservative backbencher Philip Davies, MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, expressed his anger at the situation.

“It is completely ludicrous that a serving life-sentence prisoner is even in an open prison where they can simply walk out,” he said.

Mr Grayling said: “I want to know precisely what happened.

“He is clearly in open prison after a decision by the Independent Parole Board, but I want to be sure the proper risk assessments were carries out.

“It’s obviously important that people who are a threat to members of the public are kept behind bars.”

Police have advised the public not to approach Wheatley, who is originally from Limehouse in east London but has links across south-east England.