A man who absconded from an open prison in Kent has been recaptured after a robbery in Surrey today. 55-year-old Michael Wheatley was arrested after an armed raid in Mile End in London this afternoon.
According to an eyewitness police caught Michael Wheatley after a high speed police chase which ended with a black BMW crashing into a block of flats near Mile End Tube station.
– Eyewitness, speaking anonymously
I heard all these sirens and looked out to see a black BMW smash into one of the new blocks of flats.
I couldn't believe what was going on. Two men were in the car, one got out and did a runner but the other one was on the ground at the foot of police in seconds.The police were on them in seconds. The other man was caught running down the street moments later. All of a sudden there were around eight police cars, marked and unmarked, on the street, blocking everything off.
The Skull Cracker has been arrested in East London along with a 53 year-old man on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
But Michael Wheatley has a long history of crime, as this timeline reveals:
- 1980s - Michael Wheatley is jailed for a post office raid, goes on the run to commit nine armed robberies and is jailed in 1989 for 16 years.
- 1992 - Wheatley is released to visit optician, goes on the run and commits eight raids.
- 1993 - Jailed for seven years, on top of the 20 he's already serving.
- 2001 - Wheatley is released on parole from his cumulative 27 year sentence. Within weeks he commits the first of 13 bank raids over 10 months.
- 2002 - Wheatley handed 13 life sentences of which he must serve at least eight years.
- May 3, 2014 - Released on temporary licence from Standford Hill open prison in Kent, fails to return and the alarm is raised.
- May 5 - Sighting in Twickenham, but he is not found.
- May 7 - A Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, is robbed. Wheatley is arrested later in East London.
Detectives said that a 55-year-old man and a 53 year-old man were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery following a raid at a building society in Sunbury-on-Thames this morning.
– Detective Chief Inspector Chris Raymer, of Surrey Police
I would like to thank the local community for their assistance and patience as we conducted extensive enquiries this morning.
We have been liaising with colleagues at Kent Police and the Metropolitan Police as part of our enquiries and two men have now been arrested in connection with this offence.
The 55-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large.
Kent Police, in partnership with officers from the Metropolitan Police Service, have today arrested two men in East London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
At 2pm on 7 May 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."
Kent police statement "‘We are no longer looking for Michael Wheatley.
The convicted robber known as the Skull Cracker has been arrested after an armed raid in Surrey this morning.
Police say Michael Wheatley - who fled Standford Hill open prison on Saturday - has been detained.
Kent Police are said to be heading to London to bring him back to Kent.
Armed police have cordoned off the area around the Chelsea Building Society branch in Sunbury-on-Thames which was robbed earlier today.
Investigations are underway to discover whether the escaped prisoner Michael Wheatley, known as the "Skull Cracker", was responsible for the raid there this morning.
Police remain outside the Chelsea Building Society branch in Sunbury-on-Thames which was robbed earlier today.