'Skull Cracker' Michael Wheatley in court over armed robbery

The 55-year-old allegedly raided the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames

A man has appeared in court accused of carrying out an armed robbery during five days on the run from an open prison.

Michael Wheatley, 55, nicknamed Skull Cracker, was arrested in Tower Hamlets, east London, on Wednesday, after allegedly raiding the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, of £18,350.

He appeared at South East Surrey Magistrates' Court in Redhill charged with robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and being unlawfully at large.

Prosecutor Darren Matravers said Wheatley carried out the robbery after going missing on May 3 while on temporary licence for one day from Category D HMP Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

He said: “He didn't return and so was unlawfully at large.”

Wheatley spoke only to confirm his name during the five-minute hearing and was remanded in custody to appear at Guildford Crown Court on May 29.

Unshaven and with grey cropped hair, Wheatley, dressed in a grey T-shirt, was flanked by four police officers.

His alleged accomplice, Kevin Perry, 53, of West India Dock Road, east London, is due in court later charged with assisting an offender, perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods.

PA

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