Wednesday, 18 December 2013

RONNIE BIGGS DEAD AGED 84:



I first interviewed Ronnie on my radio show whilst he was still in hiding out in Brazil after escaping a UK jail where he was serving a 30 year sentence for his part in the 1963 Great Train Robbery and made off with £2.6million in cash - worth £40million today. He wasn't hard to find, in fact he had a webpage for tourists to visit him. He made money out of posing for photographs etc. He stayed on the phone for a good 30 minutes and sounded in top form. As you know he finally handed himself in and it was then I tracked down his son Michael and have kept in touch with him over the years, speaking to me on my radio show about his life as Ronnie Biggs's son and finally about his fathers illness. It has always been debated whether the 30 year sentence fitted the crime. The driver Jack Mills died 1970 from Leukemia but it was said that it all resulted from the head wound he suffered at the hand of one of the train robbers (not Biggs as his job was the driver of the getaway car)
Biggs and 11 other robbers were jailed for a combined total of more than 300 years after they stopped the Glasgow to Euston overnight mail train, which was carrying huge numbers of used bank notes, as it passed close to Cheddington on August 8 1963.
The train was stopped at a set of signals which the gang had switched.
No guns were used, but driver Jack Mills was coshed and left unconscious by an unidentified assailant, suffered constant headaches for the rest of his life and died in 1970 from leukaemia.
Two of the robbers, Charlie Wilson and Biggs, escaped from Wandsworth Prison within two years of being jailed - Biggs scaled a wall with a rope ladder.
Biggs then spent 36 years on the run, living mainly in Brazil where he would taunt the British police and boast about his notoriety to unsuspecting tourists.


However, in 2001 he returned home to face arrest, having apparently grown tired of his life in exile.
He was eventually freed from jail in 2009 on 'compassionate grounds' by then Justice Secretary Jack Straw.
In July, just days before the 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery, Biggs said he had few regrets about the crime that made him a household name.
A new two-part drama series was due to start tonight on BBC1 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 'crime of the century'.
The first film, A Robber's Tale, focuses on the story of Bruce Reynolds as he masterminds the raid on the Royal Mail train.
The second installment, A Copper's Tale, tells the story from the perspective of DCS Tommy Butler, the police officer leading the investigation aimed at bringing the gang to justice


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