Skull Cracker
Michael Wheatley earned the moniker the Skull Cracker after a series of brutal bank robberiesPA

'Skull Cracker' Michael Wheatley has been jailed for life after absconding from an open prison and raiding a building society whilst on the run.

The 55-year-old, a notorious robber who earned his nickname by hitting his victims with an imitation handgun, pleaded guilty to the £18,350 raid at Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury on 7 May.

He also admitted possessing a firearm and being unlawfully at large.

Judge Christopher Critchlow at Guildford Crown Court handed him a 10-year-minimum sentence. The defendant appeared via video link from prison.

Wheatley absconded on 3 May after being granted day release from Standford Hill prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, where he was already serving multiple life sentences for a string of raids and robberies.

He was arrested in Tower Hamlets, east London, after being on the run for five days following the Sunbury raid.