Friday, 9 May 2014

The Skull Cracker

Last Saturday, Michael "the Skull Cracker" Wheatley walked out of an open prison.  Wheatley has a history, a criminal record, stretching back decades, viz:

:: 1980s - Michael Wheatley is jailed for the first time for nine years for a post office raid.
:: 1988 - While in prison he is given permission to go to hospital, but fails to return to jail and goes on the run. He goes on to commit a series of nine armed robberies.
:: 1989 - Wheatley is jailed for 16 years his crime spree, reduced to 11 years on appeal, on top of his original nine year prison term.
:: 1992 - Authorities temporarily release the serial robber to go the optician, and he goes on the run for a second time. Again he commits a string of robberies - this time eight raids.
:: 1993 - He is jailed for seven years for his latest batch of crimes, on top of the 20 years he is already serving.
:: 2001 - Wheatley is released on parole from his cumulative 27 year sentence, and within weeks is back to his old tricks, staging another series of raids on banks - 13 in 10 months. Prosecutors said he meticulously planned his crimes, targeting small branches that he knew, ranging from Southampton in Hampshire to Royston in Hertfordshire.
He used an imitation firearm - a blank firing semi-automatic pistol - but as the raids continued the levels of violence escalated. He pistol-whipped a 73-year-old woman in one robbery, and would often often grab a female customer, putting the pistol to their head.
:: 2002 - Wheatley is given 13 life sentences for the series of robberies, and ordered to serve a minimum of eight years before being considered for release.The Old Bailey heard he had returned to a life of crime after a relationship with a woman he met while in custody turned sour, and she spent his money.
:: May 3 2014 - The serial offender is released on temporary licence from Standford Hill open prison in Kent and takes the 9.20am train heading towards Stratford International station in east London. He fails to return to the jail by 6pm, and the alarm is raised.
:: May 5 - There is a confirmed sighting of Wheatley at 7.55pm in the Strawberry Hill area of Twickenham, and several homes are searched but he is not found.
:: May 7 - A branch of the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey is robbed by a suspect who threatens a member of staff with a handgun, being given money from a safe before running away. Police begin to investigate whether Wheatley is the culprit.
Later in the afternoon Wheatley is caught and arrested in east London along with another man, aged 53, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Wheatley is also held on suspicion of being unlawfully at large.

The obvious question is, what did the prison authorities think they were doing when (a) they let him out to visit opticians etc, and (b) why on earth was he at an open prison?  No doubt we will be told that after an enquiry, lessons have been learnt.

But what makes a man turn to a life like Wheatley's?  I suppose the trick cyclists will come up with all sorts of faffing answers, like his mother rejected him right from birth or some such; society is to blame; and so on and so on.

People like him must have almost no imagination, otherwise they would see what miserable lives they are going to have.  Yes, they deserve to be locked away, but I would suggest that they also deserve our pity.


Meeting House Lane, Brighton, Wednesday this week.


Sarah said...

It's shocking that he's been given chance after chance when he has a history of absconding and repeat offending - lessons have clearly not be learned either by him or by the authorities. Perhaps more consideration should be given to his victims who's lives have been changed by him and the potential victims who must certainly exist should he be freed yet again in the future.

Brighton Pensioner said...

My mind simply boggles at the sheer bloody stupidity of some people who should know better.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

We've a similar situation here.
The main difference is they don't bother to even put the criminals in jail.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

I should have said they don't bother to keep them in the jail.
They just book them and release them.

joeh said...

Well yeah Skip, but only if they PROMISE to behave.