Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Berkshire Hunt.

An MP has today blasted the decision to house a violent armed robber dubbed ‘the Skull Cracker’ in an open prison as ‘disgraceful’ after the prisoner went missing when he was temporarily released.

Michael Wheatley, 55, who was handed 13 life sentences at the Old Bailey in 2002, has failed to return to HMP Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent Police said.

Violent Wheatley raided 13 building societies and banks over 10 months in 2001 and 2002 while on parole from a 27-year sentence for other robberies.

The average for a standard moider in the UK is about 7 years. To add a score to that you have to have done something seriously bad – in this case a lot of seriously bad things. Now, in Prague I once saw an oubliette. That would about fit Mr Wheatley, permanently. Indeed you have to get a name like “Skull Cracker”. God alone knows what they thought about letting him loose. I mean what could possibly go wrong?


  1. Mr Ed says:

    I have a cunning plan for this sort of thing. By statute if a Parole Board or prison official authorises parole or early release for a convict, and that convict should fail to return, the officials authorising release are jailed until the convict is detained, and should he commit any offence (other than failing to return) whilst out on parole, then said officials are deemed to have aided and abetted by statute and liable to prosecution and upon conviction, due punishment. I would say that there might be call for the matter of whether or not said officials are liable by putting that to a jury, rather than conviction being automatic upon conviction of fugitive.

    How is that for a plan that would go down well?

  2. Paul Marks says:

    Seems perfectly reasonable to me Ed.

    After all what Nick describes fails the “reasonable man” test – any reasonable man would know that a habitual criminal like Mr Wheatley would abscond from an Open Prison. So the officials who sent him there must be assumed to have been part of his escape – and should be punished accordingly.

    For those not familiar with the “reasonable man” test – it is to get around the denial of “guilty mind”, the “but I did not think that would happen” defence (when that defence is clearly absurd).

    For example Mr Jones could say that “I did not think that Mr Smith would get killed when I shoved him off the cliff – I sincerely thought an eagle would fly down and save him, before he hit the ground”.

    Rather than debating whether Mr Jones is really sincere in what he says – the law simply points out that no “reasonable man” would think that an eagle would fly down and save Mr Smith, so Mr Jones is GUILTY.

    No “reasonable man” would not assume that someone like Mr Wheatley would not abscond from an Open Prison – so the officials who sent him there are GUILTY.

  3. Lynne at Counting Cats says:

    You can bet there’s some bloody reforming do-gooder behind this mess. The spirit stupidity of Longford lives on…

  4. Ed P says:

    There are many other absconders from Open Prisons, thankfully not many of them are dangerous. Is this idiotic policy in place merely to reduce the numbers locked up (which costs a lot more)?

  5. RogerC says:

    Would it not be simpler to revive the practice of outlawry? Fail to return or to show up to your parole meeting and you’re outlawed – no legal protections of any sort – until such time as you do come back.

    Then if you’re really worried about what the absconder might do, stick a bounty on the bastard. Job done.

  6. Idgaf The Nonchalant says:

    You saloon-bar folks really ought to listen to your betters.

    The problem here is that the media are causing people to be “angered or confused by the polemical voices in the press”.

    There’s also that fact that they keep going on about the “‘Life’ sentence, that is in fact nothing of the sort”.

    Early release is “both logical and humane”, and if things like this
    happen, then the true victims are those who kill after being released, because the Prison Service clearly let them down by not rehabilitiating them.

    if you want to be enlightened, please read these thoughts from one of those in authority here:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: