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|Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs, Dies At 84 by Pukkah: 11:44am On Dec 18, 2013|
British criminal Ronnie Biggs, who took part in the 1963 Great Train Robbery, has died aged 84, his spokeswoman has confirmed.
Biggs was part of the gang which escaped with £2.6m from the Glasgow to London mail train on August 8, 1963.
He was given a 30-year sentence but escaped from Wandsworth prison in 1965.
In 2001, he returned to the UK seeking medical help but was sent to prison. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 after contracting pneumonia.
Biggs, who died early on Wednesday, was being cared for at the Carlton Court Care Home in East Barnet, north London.
He could not speak and had difficulty walking after a series of strokes.
He was last seen in public at the funeral of his fellow Great Train Robber, Bruce Reynolds, in March.
Christopher Pickard, ghost writer of Biggs’s autobiography, said he should be remembered as “one of the great characters of the last 50 years”.
He told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme his friend was “kind and generous” with a great sense of humour, which he retained to the end.
Biggs was the first product of the “media age” who “inherited fame while running around the world”, he said.
Biggs, Reynolds, Ronald ‘Buster’ Edwards and the other gang members wore helmets and ski masks to carry out their crime, which took place near Cheddington, Buckinghamshire.
They made off with 120 bags of money totalling £2.6m – the equivalent of £40m in today’s money.
Speaking to Nicky Campbell on Radio 1 in 2000 – before his return to the UK – Biggs said his share of the money had been £147,000.
“I squandered it totally – within three years it was all gone,” he said.
Since then he had been “living on my name only,” he added.
He said it was “totally regrettable” that train driver Jack Mills has been struck over the head during the robbery.
“I regret it fully myself – I only wish it would not have happened but there’s no way that I can put the clock back.”
Mills, who never worked again, died in 1970.
But Biggs said he did not regret the robbery and, referring to comments made by the judge in the trial, he said: “I’m totally involved in vast greed, I’m afraid.”
Peter Rayner, a former chief operating officer for British Rail who worked with Mills, said: “My view is that whilst I was, and am, critical of the Great Train Robbers and the heroes’ welcome they got, especially in light of the death of Jack Mills, my sympathies go out to his family.”
Biggs, who lived in Spain, Australia and Brazil while he was on the run, had been in prison for 15 months when he used a rope ladder to climb over the prison walls.
He had initially fled to Paris, with his wife Charmian and two sons, Farley and Chris.
In 2011, his son, Michael, told the BBC News website his father had a final wish that his ashes be spread between Brazil and London.
The BBC said two film dramas about the robbery – A Robber’s Tale and A Copper’s Tale – scheduled to be broadcast on BBC One on Wednesday and Thursday, would still go ahead.
Writer Chris Chibnall said the programmes did not focus on Biggs. The first is from the point of view of Reynolds, while the second tells the story of the police investigation.
“With anything like this your thoughts have to be with the family on a day like today,” Chibnall said.
“He has children and obviously it’s going to be a very difficult day for them.”
|Re: Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs, Dies At 84 by Pukkah: 11:45am On Dec 18, 2013|
What a life!
|Re: Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs, Dies At 84 by aventura: 7:22pm On Dec 18, 2013|
Life on the run.
|Re: Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs, Dies At 84 by Italiano1: 8:29pm On Dec 18, 2013|
Interesting character that man was.
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