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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Armed robber given 13 life sentences
Michael Wheatley caught on CCTV
Wheatley "terrified" bank staff and customers
An armed robber has been given 13 life sentences by a judge at the Old Bailey.

Michael Wheatley, 42, was on parole from a 27-year sentence for other robberies when he committed 13 raids over a 10-month period.

In the course of the robberies, he pistol whipped customers and bank staff, including a 73-year-old woman.

Despite the number of life sentences imposed, Wheatley could be considered for parole in eight years.

Michael Wheatly caught on CCTV cameras
Wheatley was caught on CCTV cameras

Wheatley, of West India Dock Road, east London, admitted 13 charges of robbery and 13 of possessing an imitation firearm.

In court, he was described as a "career criminal" who, when arrested by police, listed his occupation as "armed robber".

He was last released from jail on 6 June 2001 during a 27-year prison term handed out in three separate sentences.

Wheatley had previously gone on the run twice and each time he began robbing banks and building societies "almost immediately", the court heard.

The latest robberies took place between June 2001 and April this year and were mainly on small branches in areas he knew.

They ranged from Southampton to Royston in Hertfordshire and netted Wheatley 45,000.

'Prolific robber'

As the robberies continued, so did the violence he used towards staff and customers.

In March this year he pistol whipped a 73-year-old woman and a building society manager.

Sentencing Wheatley on Tuesday, Judge Michael Mettyear said: "The description of you as a dangerous and prolific robber is justified.

"You terrified staff and customers alike and I am sure they will never forget their experience at your hands."


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