‘Skullcracker’ may have fled to Ireland

Escaped bank robber had planned to live in Ireland

Michael Wheatley, nicknamed the Skullcracker, who failed to return to Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent last Saturday after he had been given a temporary day release. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA

Michael Wheatley, nicknamed the Skullcracker, who failed to return to Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent last Saturday after he had been given a temporary day release. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA

Wed, May 7, 2014, 01:00


The Garda Síochána has been contacted by British police concerned that an escaped bank robber known as “the Skullcracker” because of the viciousness of his attacks, could have fled to Ireland.

The alarm was raised on Saturday evening after Michael Wheatley (55) failed to return to Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent after he had been given a temporary day release.

He was given 13 life sentences in 2002 for a series of brutal raids on banks and building societies, during which he pistol-whipped a 73-year-old woman and put a gun to the head of another.

Last night, Det Chief Insp Ann Lisseman, who is heading the hunt for Wheatley, said they were aware that the convict once planned to live in Ireland, and in fact, may have briefly done so.

Wheatley had previously served a long sentence for a string of robberies earlier in his life before he began his 2002 series of raids.