On-the-run Royston robber the “skull cracker” linked to armed robbery

PUBLISHED: 14:30 07 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:50 08 May 2014

Police were called to a bank in Surrey this morning

Police were called to a bank in Surrey this morning

Archant

An on-the-run armed robber, known as the “skull-cracker” for pistol whipping his victims, is believed to have targeted a building society today (Wednesday).

Michael Wheatley is believed to have been arrested in East LondonMichael Wheatley is believed to have been arrested in East London

Michael Wheatley, 55, is suspected of being behind an armed robbery of an a Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames at 10.20am.

Police are searching the area for the suspect who left with an unknown amount of money.

Wheatley absconded from the HMP Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, on Saturday which prompted a large manhunt by several police forces.

He was given 13 life sentences in 2002 for a series of bank robberies including one in Royston.

Detective chief inspector Chris Raymer, of Surrey Police, said: “Due to the nature of the offence and elements of the description, we have linked in with Kent Police as part of our enquiries and are working closely with them and colleagues in the Metropolitan Police.”

A spokesperson for Chelsea Building Society said: “We can confirm there was a robbery at our Sunbury branch this morning. We are helping the police with their inquiries. Nobody was hurt in the incident but staff were understandably shaken and upset. The branch remains closed currently and we hope to reopen as soon as possible.”

His escape has lead to calls for a review of the release of prisoners on a temporary licence.

Police say anyone who encounters Wheatley should not approach him and dial 999 immediately.

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