Britain frees 'Great Train Robber' Ronnie Biggs

Unrepentant desperado

Britain frees 'Great Train Robber' Ronnie Biggs


“The decision was based on medical evidence that Biggs’s condition had deteriorated and he was not expected to recover. Biggs, who turns 80 this weekend, is severely ill with pneumonia,” Straw said.

Just last month, Straw had refused to release Biggs on parole, saying that the man who stoked his reputation as “The Great Train Robber” in his years on the run was “wholly unrepentant” about his crimes. On Thursday, though, Straw approved his release on medical grounds, saying: “The medical evidence clearly shows that Mr. Biggs is very ill and that his condition has deteriorated recently, culminating in his re-admission to hospital. His condition is not expected to improve.”

In a telephone interview with the BBC, on his way to the prison where his father has been held, Michael Biggs said that his father was unlikely to live long. The British press dubbed the caper Biggs was imprisoned for “The Great Train Robbery,” and his escape from prison after serving just 15 months of a 30-year sentence only added to his legend. In 1965, The Guardian reported his escape in fairly glowing terms, writing, “Like the train robbery itself, this operation was characterised by panache and flamboyance.”

The Times of London poured over every detail of the escape in its July 9, 1965 edition. “The Great Train Robbery” became such a part of the fabric of British popular culture that it inspired countless heist films and even a comedy routine by Peter Cook and Alan Bennett.
The New York Times

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