UK Great Train Robber dies

2013-12-18 13:24

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London - Britain's Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs has died, aged 84, at a care home in London, the Press Association news agency reported on Wednesday, quoting sources.

Biggs won notoriety for his role in holding up a Royal Mail train in 1963, before eventually fleeing to Rio de Janeiro and spending 35 years on the run.

He returned to Britain aged 71 after suffering three strokes, saying he could not afford treatment in Brazil, and was immediately arrested. He was freed in 2009 on compassionate grounds.

The gang responsible for the Great Train Robbery made off with £2.6m, a huge sum in those days. However they were soon rounded up, and Biggs received a 30-year jail sentence.

But after serving just 15 months, Biggs made a daring escape by climbing over the prison wall using a rope ladder. He then travelled to Paris where he underwent plastic surgery before flying on to Australia.

No regrets

When the net began to close on him there, he flew to Brazil where his Brazilian girlfriend became pregnant, meaning he could not be extradited.

Biggs never expressed any regret for the heist itself, saying only that it was "regrettable" that the train driver, who was hit over the head during the robbery, was never able to work again and died some years later.

"If you want to ask me if I have any regrets about being one of the train robbers, my answer is, 'No'," he said earlier this year, communicating via a spelling board since he could no longer speak.

"I will go further: I am proud to have been one of them. I am equally happy to be described as the 'tea-boy' or 'The Brain'. "I was there that August night and that is what counts. I am one of the few witnesses - living or dead - to what was 'The Crime of the Century'," he said.

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