Armed robber 'Skull Cracker' jailed for life

The armed robber nicknamed the Skull Cracker has been sentenced to life with a minimum of 10 years for offences committed while on the run from an open prison.

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Police hope jailing helps raid victims 'move forward'

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Raymer of Surrey Police has welcomed the life sentence handed down to "Skull Cracker" Michael Wheatley following his armed raid while on the run, saying:

Wheatley is a dangerous individual and I welcome the lengthy sentence imposed at today's hearing which reflects the seriousness of his crimes.

This was clearly an extremely distressing incident for the members of staff in the building society who were threatened by Wheatley and I hope the sentence helps them to move forward.

Wheatley was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court after admitting raiding a Surrey branch of the Chelsea Building Society earlier this month during five days on the run from an open prison.

Judge: Public must be protected from 'Skull Cracker'

The judge who sentenced "Skull Cracker" Michael Wheatley said "the public must be protected from you for a long time" as he jailed him for the latest raid in a career of armed robberies.

Judge Christopher Critchlow said Wheatley's prolific record of committing violent armed robberies and other offences after being released from prison sentences made him a "special case".

Sentencing the 55-year-old at Guildford Crown Court, Judge Critchlow said:

You went to the same branch which you robbed in about 2001. You therefore deliberately targeted this branch and planned this raid.

You knew exactly what you were doing, having committed such crimes so many times. It is clear the public must be protected from you for a long time.

The court heard that Wheatley has 23 previous convictions for robbery, two for attempted robbery and 18 for related firearms offences.

He was already serving 13 life sentences at Category D Standford Hill prison in Kent, when he was granted day release and failed to return on May 3.

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'Skull Cracker' Michael Wheatley sentenced to life

Michael Wheatley was recaptured in Tower Hamlets, east London, after an armed raid on the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames. Credit: PA Video/PA Wire

The armed robber nicknamed the Skull Cracker has been sentenced to life with a minimum of 10 years for offences committed while on the run from an open prison.

Michael Wheatley, 55, was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court after admitting raiding a Surrey branch of the Chelsea Building Society earlier this month during five days on the run.

He robbed the building society in Sunbury-on-Thames of £18,350 on May 7.

Sentence expected as 'Skull Cracker' pleads guilty

The serial armed robber dubbed the "Skull Cracker" is awaiting his sentence after pleading guilty to three new offences.

Michael Wheatley, 55, was granted day release from serving a life sentence in Kent on May 3 but failed to return, instead raiding the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey.

Video still of so-called "Skull Cracker", arriving at South East Surrey Magistrates' Court in Redhill on Friday May 9, 2014. Credit: PA Video

He was arrested in Tower Hamlets, east London, and today pleaded guilty to robbery, possession of a firearm, or imitation firearm, while committing an offence and being unlawfully at large.

Lionel Blackman, defending, asked Judge Christopher Critchlow, the Recorder of Guildford, to pass sentence today once CCTV footage of the robbery is obtained.

Wheatley's alleged accomplice, Kevin Perry, 53, of West India Dock Road, east London, was also charged with assisting an offender, perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods.

'Skull Cracker' admits to three new offences

Video still taken from PA Video of Michael Wheatley, 55, nicknamed Skull Cracker, arriving at South East Surrey Magistrates' Court Credit: PA Video

Michael Wheatley, 55, who was nicknamed 'Skull Cracker' after a string of robberies, today admitted at Guildford Crown Court three new offences including a robbery at a Surrey building society committed while he was on the run from an open prison.

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