Fugitive 'Skull Cracker' Michael Wheatley in custody

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Media captionFootage filmed from a window shows police arresting a man

A fugitive armed robber nicknamed the "Skull Cracker" has been arrested in east London.

Kent Police said they had detained two men, aged 55 and 53, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

The force added: "The 55-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large."

Michael Wheatley, who absconded from HMP Standford Hill in Kent on Saturday, was given 13 life sentences in 2002 for raids on banks and building societies.

He has gone on the run twice in the past and each time staged a series of violent robberies before he was caught and re-jailed.

An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said he saw the arrest by armed police in Bow.

He said the police had machine guns and a man was wrestled to the ground.

Staff at the open prison on Sheppey raised the alert on Saturday after Wheatley had been released on temporary licence but failed to return that evening.

Image copyright BBC exclusive
Image caption A witness saw the man wrestled to the ground and led into a police van
Image copyright BBC exclusive
Image caption Officers took two men into custody
Image copyright BBC exclusive
Image caption Police said the arrest was in connection with an earlier building society raid

On Monday, there was a confirmed sighting of him in Twickenham, south west London, and several homes were searched but he was not found.

Detectives were earlier investigating an armed robbery at Chelsea Building Society branch in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, where "a quantity of cash" was taken by a man with a handgun.

Kent Police confirmed Wheatley's arrest is in relation to the building society raid.

A spokesman for Chelsea Building Society said no-one had been hurt in the attack at the branch in The Parade, Staines Road, but staff were left shaken.

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