Discover the World News Forecast . . . FIRST in Foresight Journalism

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs parole likely

March 7, 2009 - ENGLAND

Ronnie Biggs, who achieved notoriety as a member of a 15-strong gang that attacked the Glasgow to London mail train at Ledburn on 8 Aug 1963, before making off with UK £2.6 million (US $3.8 million), is expected to be released from Norwich prison on Jul 3 or 4 after serving part of a 30-year sentence for his role in the best-known robbery in British history. His notoriety also stems from his escape from prison in 1965 and colorful years on the run. He turns 80 on 8 Aug, exactly 46 years after the heist.

Ronnie Biggs, who achieved notoriety as a member of a 15-strong gang that attacked the Glasgow to London mail train at Ledburn on 8 Aug 1963, before making off with UK £2.6 million (US $3.8 million), is expected to be released from Norwich prison on Jul 3 or 4 after serving part of a 30-year sentence for his role in the best-known robbery in British history. His notoriety also stems from his escape from prison in 1965 and colorful years on the run. He turns 80 on 8 Aug, exactly 46 years after the heist. Scaling the wall of Wandsworth prison with the aid of a rope ladder in 1965, he escaped to a life on the run. He lived in Spain and Australia, before a long period of minor celebrity in Brazil. Protected in a nation without an extradition treaty with Britain, he fathered a child by a nightclub dancer and sold "Ronnie Biggs" mugs and T-shirts to British tourists in Rio. In 2001, he returned to Britain after a minor stroke and surrendered to the authorities to complete his sentence. The ring leader was Bruce Reynolds, a known burglar and armed robber, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica account of the robbery. The robbers stopped the train by turning off a green track signal and, with batteries, turning on a red signal. The train's fireman went to investigate and was captured, unharmed; the engineer was severely injured by a blow on the head. The robbers took about 120 mail bags by Land Rovers to their farm hideaway, where they divided the loot. Subsequently six thieves were hired to burn down the farmhouse but did such a poor job that the police found everyone's fingerprints. With this and other evidence, 12 of the 15 robbers were caught, convicted, and sent to prison (none serving more than 13 years). Biggs is eligible for release in July because he will have served one third of his 30-year sentence. He is in the hospital wing of Norwich prison, having suffered a series of strokes, and will require 24-hour medical nursing care after his release. He cannot speak or read and is fed through a tube in his stomach. Britain's Guardian newspaper speculates that his release is likely be followed by a bidding war for his story. A book about his time in jail, The Inside Story, by Mike Gray, has just been published. Apr/09

Ronnie Biggs hopeful of parole 46 years after Great Train Robbery (Guardian 23 Apr 2009)

History of Great Train Robbery (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Date written/update: 2009-03-07