Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) August 12, 2009 -- Ronnie Biggs, the Great Train robber, has finally been released from prison, thirty years to the day after his famous heist.
In the early 1960's the name Ronnie Biggs was on everybody's lips. Biggs has spent most of his life on the run from justice. He was behind the largest robbery by value in Britainâs history, until the record was broken in 1971, when the Baker Street robbery took place.
Biggs returned to England by his own choice in 2001, knowing full well he would be immediately arrested and thrown into jail. He yearned to walk into a British pub just one more time and order a pint of bitter. Biggs was arrested as soon as he stepped on British soil and never made it to the pub.
Eighty year-old Biggs is now bedridden, weakened by strokes and pneumonia, unable to walk, feed himself, or talk. Communication is through Biggs pointing to letters on a board.
Yet another application for Bigg's release was rejected on July 2 2009 by Jack Straw the Secretary of British Justice. He said Biggs remained wholly unrepentant of the crime. British officials however, finally agreed to withdraw the guards from Biggâs hospital bed, allowing him freedom on âcompassionate grounds,â as he is no longer believed to be a danger to society.
When the gang of thieves hijacked the Royal Mail train, on August 8th 1963, Biggs was just 34 year- old. No guns were used, but the robbers beat the train driver with an iron bar, before taking off with around 2.6 million pounds, ($65 million at todayâs value). The bulk of the stolen money was never found and the train driver never fully recovered from his injuries.
Biggs was sentenced to 30 years in jail, but after only 15 months he escaped with three other prisoners. He climbed a wall surrounding the prisonerâs exercise yard and escaped in a furniture van. It's estimated Biggs was in possession of a considerable portion of the stolen money.
In 1970 He shifted to Australia and lived a quite normal life as a builder. Biggs had undergone an identity change and plastic surgery in Paris. Biggs then fled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when the Australian police were tipped off to his whereabouts.
Biggs lived the life-style of a playboy, spending many years strolling the sunny beaches of Rio de Janeiro. He made a recording with the Sex Pistols, âNo One Is Innocent' and an advert for hair replacement. He was often seen posing for photographs with tourists.
Biggs openly mocked British law, as Brazil refused to extradite him. As he had fathered a Brazilian son he had even more immunity. Biggs was kidnapped by British ex-soldiers in 1981 and taken to Barbados. However, the Barbados police rescued Biggs from a yacht and shipped him back to Brazil.
Within hours of the announcement of the release of ailing Biggs, the BBC was flooded with emails from critics of the move.
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