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'Skull Cracker' Michael Wheatley caught after bank is raided

By Margaret Davis

A serial armed robber dubbed the 'Skull Cracker' has been caught after going on the run for the third time.

Career criminal Michael Wheatley (55) went missing when he was released on a temporary licence from an open prison in Kent on Saturday – and allegedly robbed a building society in Surrey yesterday. He and another man were arrested in Tower Hamlets, east London, on suspicion of the armed raid.

Wheatley, who earned his nickname after pistol-whipping victims, had gone on the run twice in the past and each time staged robberies before being caught and re-jailed.

A branch of the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, was robbed yesterday, and police were investigating whether Wheatley was responsible.

Jodie Aston, who works in a hair salon just yards from the building society, said police officers told her they knew who the suspect was.

She said: "They came in and said the man that robbed the bank was the man that escaped from the open prison."

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