THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY 50TH ANNIVERSARY …. 8TH AUGUST 2013

5O YEARS ON ….. HERE’S A BIT MORE INTERACTIVE MATERIAL , AND VIDEO FOOTAGE ETC RELATING TO THIS NOW TIMELESS AND ICONIC GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY 133369598__01_437849c N0045611362061783055A train-robbers-2136249

Police investigation into the Great Train Robbery is commemorated on 50th anniversary of infamous crime

Detectives who investigated the Great Train Robbery were praised for solving the ‘crime of the century – 50 years after the infamous heist took place.

Eighteen retired Buckinghamshire Constabulary investigators and backroom staff were reunited at Eynsham Hall in Witney, Oxfordshire.

They received commendations on the eve of the £2.6 million robbery’s 50th anniversary from Thames Valley Police chief constable Sara Thornton.

Twelve of the 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 through the Buckinghamshire countryside close to Cheddington on August 8 1963.

Praised: John Woolley (left) and Keith Milner who worked on the case of the Great Train Robbery at a ceremony where they received commendations from current Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton Praised: John Woolley (left) and Keith Milner who worked on the case of the Great Train Robbery at a ceremony where they received commendations from current Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton

 

Anniversary: A cake made to mark the 50th anniversary of the Great Train RobberyAnniversary: A cake made to mark the 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery

 

Well done: Keith Milner, who worked on the case of the Great Train Robbery, at a ceremony where he received a commendation from current Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton at Eynsham Hall, Witney, OxfordshireWell done: Keith Milner, who worked on the case of the Great Train Robbery, at a ceremony where he received a commendation from current Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton at Eynsham Hall, Witney, Oxfordshire

Evidence: A Monopoly board used by the robbers in their hideout and some notes stolen from the train were on show at last night's celebrationEvidence: A Monopoly board used by the robbers in their hideout and some notes stolen from the train were on show at last night’s celebration

Keith Milner, now 78, was the duty detective at Aylesbury on the night of the robbery.

Then aged 28, he was woken by a call at 5am letting him know there had been a burglary near Cheddington.

‘I said “what’s gone?” and they said “a train”,’ he explained last night.

 

 

‘An early call generally meant a long day and this was no exception. In those days we got dressed – suit, collar and tie – and off we went.’

After first collecting evidence on the railtrack, Mr Milner spent nine months attached to the investigation as the officer in charge of exhibits.

He was instrumental during the subsequent court case and worked shoulder to shoulder with Scotland Yard legends such as Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read, later responsible for bringing down the East End gangland empire ruled by the Kray twins.

Infamous: Detectives pictured at the scene near Cheddington following the most notorious heist of the 20th century, The Great Train RobberyInfamous: Detectives pictured at the scene near Cheddington following the most notorious heist of the 20th century, The Great Train Robbery

Manhunt: Police Superintendent Malcom Fewtrell of Buckinghamshire Constabulary C.I.D. is pictured (left) with Detective Gerald McArthur (right) of Scotland Yard investigating the mail train robberyManhunt: Police Superintendent Malcom Fewtrell of Buckinghamshire Constabulary C.I.D. is pictured (left) with Detective Gerald McArthur (right) of Scotland Yard investigating the mail train robbery

 

Looking for clues: Investigators are pictured examining the train after the robbery 50 years agoLooking for clues: Investigators are pictured examining the train after the robbery 50 years ago

 

Investigation: Police offfered a £10,000 reward for information on the robbery. Their investigation eventually saw 12 gang members jailed for a combined total of more than 300 yearsInvestigation: Police offfered a £10,000 reward for information on the robbery. Their investigation eventually saw 12 gang members jailed for a combined total of more than 300 years

Closing in: Detective Superintendent Gerald McArthur is pictured searching for clues in the grounds of the suspects' hideoutClosing in: Detective Superintendent Gerald McArthur is pictured searching for clues in the grounds of the suspects’ hideout

John Woolley was a 25-year-old PC who had been on the job for four years when he discovered Leatherslade Farm, the abandoned hideout the men had used after committing their crime.

Now 75, he explained how he was sent to the property to investigate ‘suspicious comings and goings’ after police received a tip off.

Among items officers found at the scene was a Monopoly set which the robbers had used to kill time, playing with real £5 notes taken from their loot.

The original board game was on display last night at the commendation ceremony after it was discovered by TV’s Antiques Roadshow.

‘I just happened to be at that place at that time,’ Mr Woolley said at the ceremony.

‘What I did any of my colleagues could and would have done and perhaps done better.’

Asked about robber Ronnie Biggs, the former policeman said: ‘He is perhaps one of the robbers who got some enjoyment, some satisfaction, out of his share of the loot.

‘He did, for a while, live the high life in Brazil, no doubt about that.

 

How the scene of the infamous Great Train Robbery looks today

Success: The investigation led to 12 of the robbers being caught and jailed for their role in the crime. Here three of the suspects are pictured being led away from Linslade Court with blankets over their headsSuccess: The investigation led to 12 of the robbers being caught and jailed for their role in the crime. Here three of the suspects are pictured being led away from Linslade Court with blankets over their heads

 

Clues: Police officers look pleased with themselves as they load evidence from the gang's hideaway into police carsClues: Police officers look pleased with themselves as they load evidence from the gang’s hideaway into police cars

 

Breakthrough: Police stand guard outside Leatherslade Farm at Oakley in Buckinghamshire, used as a hide-out by the Great Train RobbersBreakthrough: Police stand guard outside Leatherslade Farm at Oakley in Buckinghamshire, used as a hide-out by the Great Train Robbers

 

Wanted: Police issued mugshots of the men wanted in connection with the robbery in the weeks that followed including this one of Buster Edwards and his wife JuneWanted: Police issued mugshots of the men wanted in connection with the robbery in the weeks that followed including this one of Buster Edwards and his wife June

Hunted: Mugshots of Bruce Reynolds (left) and Roy James (right) were also issued by detectives in the aftermath of the £2.6 million robberyHunted: Mugshots of Bruce Reynolds (left) and Roy James (right) were also issued by detectives in the aftermath of the £2.6 million robbery

‘But he was finally arrested, he is now a very sick man and I’m surprised that he is making all these comments after we have been told time and time again that he is hardly able to speak.

‘Good luck to him, but he is a sick man.

‘Me? I’m still surviving, I shall be going home tonight to my home to my supper – he won’t.’

Mr Woolley also said he had been saddened to learn of Reynolds’ death and recalled how the criminal mastermind had even sent him a Christmas card one year.

Chief Constable Thornton said: ‘The coverage in the newspapers and the discussion is always about the offenders in this notorious crime.

‘I wanted to balance that by thanking the police officers and police staff who played a very important role in making sure that those men were brought to justice 50 years ago.’

Scene guard: Police officers are pictured at Leatherslade Farm hideout shortly after it was discovered by officersScene guard: Police officers are pictured at Leatherslade Farm hideout shortly after it was discovered by officers

 

Evidence: Items seized from Leatherslade Farm, including a Monopoly set used by the gang, are picturedEvidence: Items seized from Leatherslade Farm, including a Monopoly set used by the gang, are pictured

 

Hiding place: Police eventually found £35,000 stashed in the walls of a caravan owned by Great Train Robber James WhiteHiding place: Police eventually found £35,000 stashed in the walls of a caravan owned by Great Train Robber James White

Train driver Jack Mills rests at home after the robbery

No regrets: Ronnie Biggs, whose Interpol notice is pictured (left) said recently that his only regret in connection with the robbery is that train driver Jack Mills (right) and the families of those involved suffered

Two of the robbers, Charlie Wilson and most famously Biggs, escaped jail, with Biggs spending more than 30 years on the run after returning to Britain in 2001 to face arrest.

He was eventually freed in 2009 on ‘compassionate grounds’ by then Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

The mastermind behind the gang, Bruce Reynolds fled to Mexico and later Canada following the crime but returned to the UK and was jailed for 25 years in 1968.

He served 10 years before his release and died back in February.

Two police officers who were involved in the investigation will attend tonight’s event alongside serving Thames Valley Police officers at Eynsham Hall in Witney, Oxfordshire.

Keith Milner was a detective at Aylesbury at the time of the robbery, while John Woolley was a PC and discovered Leatherslade Farm, where the men hid after committing the crime.

Memories: Retired Chief inspector John Wolley is pictured sharing a laugh with Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind behind the crime on the 40th anniversary of the heist ten years ago Memories: Retired Chief inspector John Wolley is pictured sharing a laugh with Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind behind the crime on the 40th anniversary of the heist ten years ago

Mastermind: Bruce Reynolds at Oakley Village Hall, Buckinghamshire, during a village fete on the 40th anniversary of the robberyMastermind: Bruce Reynolds at Oakley Village Hall, Buckinghamshire, during a village fete on the 40th anniversary of the robbery

Last month Biggs insisted he was proud to have been part of the gang.

He is currently being cared for in a north London nursing home and said he has few regrets about the crime that made him a household name.

Biggs, who cannot speak and communicates through a spelling board, said: ‘If you want to ask me if I have any regrets about being one of the train robbers, my answer is, “No!”.

‘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.’

But although he is proud to have been involved in the headline-grabbing crime, he admitted he does have some regrets.

Half a century on: The scene of the Great Train Robbery near Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, todayHalf a century on: The scene of the Great Train Robbery near Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, today

 

‘It is regrettable, as I have said many times, that the train driver was injured,’ he said. ‘And he was not the only victim.

‘The people who paid the heaviest price for the Great Train Robbery are the families. The families of everyone involved in the Great Train Robbery, and from both sides of the track.

‘All have paid a price for our collective involvement in the robbery. A very heavy price, in the case of my family.

‘For that, I do have my regrets.’

A new book has been published to mark the 50th anniversary – The Great Train Robbery – 50th Anniversary – 1963-2103, and is said to explain first-hand the complete story of the robbery.

Both Biggs and Reynolds, who died in February, contributed to the book, which has been written by Reynolds’ son Nick, along with Biggs’ autobiographer Chris Pickard.

Mr Reynolds and Mr Pickard said the book was an aim at ‘setting the record straight’, and putting right any inaccuracies in a tale that has become folklore.

MICHAEL ADEBOLAJO -ALLEGED TERRORIST AND EVIL MURDERER OF LEE RIGBY BEATEN UP IN JAIL

Lee Rigby murder suspect Michael Adebolajo ‘loses two teeth in prison attack’

 
ORIGINAL UNCENSORED VIDEO FOOTAGE AT THE TIME OF THE EVIL MURDER OF LEE RIGBY PUBLISHED ON MAY 23RD 2013
adebolajo michael ii
 Michael Adebolajo has reportedly been attacked in prison 

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One of the terror suspects accused of murdering Drummer Lee Rigby has reportedly had two teeth knocked out in prison.

Michael Adebolajo was reportedly set upon at HMP Belmarsh on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed an investigation was being carried out but refused to comment further – including on reports that he had been ‘targeted’ by prison officers.

‘It would be inappropriate to comment while the investigation was ongoing,’ a spokesman said.

Adebolajo, of Romford, Essex, is accused with Michael Adebowale, 22, of hacking Drummer Rigby to death near Woolwich Barracks, south-east London, on May 22.

Undated Ministry of Defence handout photo of Drummer Lee Rigby. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday June 1, 2013. One of soldier Lee Rigby's suspected killers was being questioned by police today as protest marches were due to begin around the country. Michael Adebolajo, who was shot by police, was released from hospital yesterday and taken into custody. The 28-year-old had already been arrested on suspicion of Drummer Rigby's murder, and yesterday was further arrested on suspicion of the attempted murder of a police officer. Michael Adebowale, 22, has already been charged with murdering the young soldier and is due to appear at the Old Bailey on Monday. Meanwhile two men aged 42 and 46 arrested on suspicion of being involved in the illegal supply of guns were bailed today to return to a south London police station later this month. See PA story POLICE Woolwich. Photo credit should read: MoD/Crown Copyright/PA Wire  NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale are accused of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby 

The 28-year-old, who was shot by armed officers at the scene of Drummer Rigby’s death, is further charged with the attempted murder of two police officers. He is in Belmarsh, south-east London, awaiting a November murder trial at the Old Bailey.

Drummer Rigby’s death led to an outpouring of public anger, with tight security surrounding previous court appearances by the two defendants.

It emerged Wednesday that a man had been arrested on suspicion of writing ‘Lee Rigby’s killers should hang’ on the RAF Bomber Command War Memorial in central London.

A 20-year-old was held at his home in Manchester on Tuesday on suspicion of an act of criminal damage at the memorial in Green Park on June 5, Scotland Yard said.

The memorial to the thousands of RAF crew who lost their lives in World War II was vandalised twice in just over a week following Mr Rigby’s death.

R.I.P. BRITISH SOLDIER – LEE RIGBY (AGED 25) ……. MURDERED IN AN EVIL AND CALLOUS UNPROVOKED ATTACK 22ND MAY 2013

Lee-Rigby

On the afternoon of 22 May 2013, a British Army soldier, Drummer (Private) Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was attacked and killed by two men near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, in what has been described as an Islamic terrorist attack.

Rigby was off duty and walking along Wellington Street when he was attacked. Two men ran him down with a car, then used knives and a cleaver to stab and hack him to death. The men dragged Rigby’s body into the road. The men remained at the scene until police arrived. They told passers-by that they had killed a soldier to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British military Unarmed police arrived at the scene nine minutes after an emergency call was received and set up a cordon. Armed police officers arrived five minutes later. The assailants, armed with a gun and cleaver, charged at the police, who fired shots that wounded them both. They were apprehended and taken to separate hospitals Both are British of Nigerian descent who were raised as Christians and converted to Islam.

The attack was condemned by political and Muslim leaders in the United Kingdom and in the worldwide press. In the aftermath, there was an increase in anti-Muslim attacks across the UK

THE MASTERMIND BEHIND THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (1963) BRUCE REYNOLDS FUNERAL 20TH MARCH 2013

R.I.P BRUCE REYNOLDS

NICK REYNOLDS DEVOTED SON OF HIS FATHER BRUCE , HIS BOYS , FAMILY , FRIENDS , ACQUAINTANCES AND MANY OTHERS SAY FAREWELL TO ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC FOLKLORE FIGURES IN BRITISH MODERN HISTORY AT ST BARTHOLOMEW THE GREAT CHURCH, SMITHFIELDS , LONDON, UK . 

FOLLOWED UP BY THE WAKE IN HIS HONOUR HELD AT THE KING’S HEAD PUB , KINGSLAND ROAD , LONDON. 

ON A PERSONAL LEVEL I  WOULD WISH TO ADD THAT IT WAS A GREAT DAY AND A GREAT SEND-OFF AND FURTHERMORE ALL THOSE THAT WERE THERE THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND EVENING HAD A FANTASTIC TIME . 

BELOW IS THE ORDER OF SERVICE FRONT COVER  , VARIOUS PERSONAL IMAGES TAKEN ON THE DAY AND THROUGHOUT THE EVENING BY OUR OWN ALWAYS LOYAL FACEBOOK ADMIN GEEZER………….. JULES,  AS WELL AS SOME OTHER PRESS USED FEATURES AND VIDEO ETC RELATING TO BRUCE REYNOLDS AND HIS LIFE……../

DSC_1868NICK REYNOLDS AND HIS SONS SAY THEIR LAST FAREWELLS TO BRUCE 

Nick Reynolds kisses his father, Bruce Reynolds coffin as it leaves  the church  at   Bruce Reynolds the Great Train Robbery masterminds funeral, London, UK

FOR MORE OF OUR IMAGES TAKEN BY JULES PLEASE VISIT

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Two fingers to you all: Frail and wheelchair-bound, Ronnie Biggs, 83, makes a feeble gesture of defiance at the funeral of one of his train robber pals

  • The former criminal mastermind Bruce Reynolds died in his sleep last month aged 81
  • Reynolds referred to the train robbery as ‘his Sistine Chapel’, says his son Nick
  • Brains behind £2.6million robbery of mail train with 16 accomplices
  • Jailed for 25 years for role and later wrote of experiences in memoir
  • Fellow gang member Ronnie Biggs attended private funeral in city of London

 

Even half a century later, he speaks of it as ‘an adventure’.

Ronnie Biggs might be a pathetic figure in a wheelchair these days but he still has fond memories of the Great Train Robbery and his 36-year flight from justice.

An engine driver coshed on the skull with an iron bar. A life on the run. A circle of friends including gangsters, hard-men, thugs and petty criminals.

Scroll down for video

Ronnie Biggs
Ronnie Biggs

Partner-in-crime: Ronnie Biggs makes an obscene gesture as he attends the funeral of Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery

Event: Hundreds of mourners attended the service which took place at St Bartholomew the Great, in LondonEvent: Hundreds of mourners attended the service which took place at St Bartholomew the Great, in London
Gathering: Around 200 people attended the funeral of Bruce Reynolds in the city of London today
Bruce Reynolds

Colourful life: Bruce Reynolds, left, was the brains behind the Great Train Robbery (pictured in 1963 right)

Notorious: Mourners comfort each other outside the church. The funeral was very well attendedNotorious: Mourners comfort each other outside the church. The funeral was very well attended

Biggs said farewell to one of them yesterday – and found the strength to raise two fingers for the cameras.

Frail, 83, and unable to stray far from medical care, he made a rare public outing from his nursing home to join mourners at the funeral of his old pal Bruce Reynolds, fellow ex-fugitive and so-called ‘mastermind’ of the 1963 robbery.

In a tribute read out on his behalf, Biggs told a 200-strong congregation: ‘It was Bruce who set me off on an adventure that was to change my life, and it was typical of Bruce that he was there at the end to help me back from Brazil to  Britain. I am proud to have had Bruce Richard Reynolds as a friend. He was a good man.’

Well-known associate of the Kray brothers Freddy Foreman (centre) leads a group of mourners to the funeralWell-known associate of the Kray brothers Freddie Foreman (centre) leads a group of mourners to the funeral, including former celeb and football agent Eric Hall (right)
Respects: Mourners at the funeral of Bruce Reynolds who was jailed for 25 years for his part in the Great Train robberyRespects: Mourners at the funeral of Bruce Reynolds who was jailed for 25 years for his part in the Great Train robbery
Underworld: Self-styled gangster Dave Courtnay who was jailed in the Eighties for attacking five men with a meat cleaver at the funeraUnderworld: Self-styled gangster Dave Courtney, who was jailed in the Eighties for attacking five men with a meat cleaver, at the funeral

A mourner makes a display of his underworld connections at the funeral of Bruce ReynoldsA mourner makes a display of his underworld connections at the funeral of Bruce Reynolds
Eastenders actor Jamie Foreman - the son of former gangster Freddie Foreman - attended the funeral
Bobby Welch arriving

EastEnders actor Jamie Foreman – the son of former gangster Freddie Foreman, left, and another of the surviving Great Train robbers Bobby Welch, right

NICK REYNOLDS: GANGSTER’S SON WHOSE BAND FOUND FAME WITH THE SOPRANOS THEME TUNE

Nick Reynolds’ band, Alabama 3, was founded at an Acid House party in Brixton, London, in 1995, when members agreed that a fusion of country music with acid house was a possibility.

They were signed to Geffen Records for a million dollars which, in their words, was spent: ‘ on ‘various contraband items and with the rest we made an over-produced, brilliant situationist masterpiece called ‘Exile on Coldharbour Lane’

They achieved international fame when the producers of The Sopranos, a hit TV series about a Mafia family living in the U.S., chose their track ‘Woke Up This Morning‘ for the show’s opening credits.

That tune, written by band member Rob Spragg,’bought someone a swimming pool, but it sure wasn’t any of us…’, they claim.

Their music has also appeared in a number of films including Gone in 60 Seconds and A Life Less Ordinary.

That ‘good man’ was part of the gang that needlessly attacked train driver Jack Mills and left him bleeding in his cab.

Although Mills died seven years later from cancer, his family maintains the trauma never left him, insisting the blow contributed to his early death.

The robbery netted more than £2.6million in used bank notes, around  £40million in today’s money and the biggest of its kind.

Despite the unnecessary brutality, it captured public imagination for decades, spawned a succession of films and books, and earned leading gang members dubious celebrity.

Hence, other names from the past joined Biggs yesterday for the private church service in St Bartholomew The Great in the City of London.

Among them were former Kray brothers’ henchmen Freddie Foreman, known as ‘Brown Bread Fred’ for the assistance he gave in disposing of one of the twins’ high profile victims; fellow member of ‘The Firm’, Chris Lambrianou; and self-proclaimed gangster Dave Courtney.

Yesterday Courtney said of Reynolds: ‘He was a real class act.

‘He used to wear the cravat and everything. He was a monarch for naughty people. The Great Train Robbery – that was the big one for him. He always used to call it his Moby Dick.’

Reynolds, an antique dealer nicknamed ‘Napoleon’, boasted that he wanted to pull off a crime that would go down in  history and make him rich.

He succeeded in one of those ambitions – but was broke by the time he was arrested five years later in Torquay after returning to Britain from a  succession of hideouts in Mexico and Canada.

He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in jail. In the 1980s he was jailed again, for drug dealing.

He died in his sleep on February 28, aged 81, a few months before the 50th anniversary of the robbery.

It might have been hailed as one of the most audacious of the 20th century, but Reynolds, the service was told, was not looking forward to celebrating it. In his 1995 memoirs, he labelled it ‘a curse’ that followed him for the rest of his life.

Yesterday his son Nick described his father as ‘a romantic, a true adventurer… a journeyman who chose a lunatic path and paid the price.’

He added: ‘He was an artist at heart and although he referred to the train robbery as his Sistine Chapel, his greatest triumph was in reassessing himself and changing his attitude about what is important in life.’

Having left the church to the strains of Let’s Face the Music and Dance, guests were invited afterwards to remember Reynolds at an East End pub.

Biggs
A note left at the funeral of Bruce Reynolds

Biggs was joined by a number of associates of Reynolds. A note (left) placed by a mourner at the funeral of Bruce Reynolds

Nick Reynolds' leads his family into the service where tributes and readings were madeNick Reynolds’ leads his family into the service where tributes and readings were made
An ailing Ronnie Biggs shakes Nick Reynolds' hand after an emotional service
Dave Courtney

An ailing Ronnie Biggs (left) shakes Nick Reynolds’ hand after an emotional service, while self-styled gangster Dave Courtney turns up with a toy train

Nick Reynolds performs with his band Alabama 3 during his father's funeralNick Reynolds performs with his band Alabama 3 during his father’s funeral
A statement read out on behalf of Ronnie Biggs described Bruce Reynolds as a 'true friend'A statement read out on behalf of Ronnie Biggs described Bruce Reynolds as a ‘true friend’
Flowers left by well-known associate of the Kray brothers Freddie ForemanFlowers left by well-known associate of the Kray brothers Freddie Foreman
A tribute from Reynolds' deputy Gordon Goody was also read out at the serviceA tribute from Reynolds’ deputy Gordon Goody was also read out at the service

Emotional: Tributes were read out by Bruce Reynolds' son Nick and his friend and fellow robber Gordon GoodyEmotional: Tributes were read out by Bruce Reynolds’ son Nick and his friend and fellow robber Gordon Goody
The coffin leaves St Bartholomew the Great church followed by mourners in the City of London Great church in the City of LondonThe coffin leaves St Bartholomew the Great church followed by mourners in the City of London
Nick Reynolds paid tribute to his father describing him as his best friend and greatest inspirationNick Reynolds paid tribute to his father describing him as his best friend and greatest inspiration
Ronnie Biggs, centre, said he was 'proud' to count Bruce Reynolds as a friendRonnie Biggs, centre, said he was ‘proud’ to count Bruce Reynolds as a friend
Arrest: Reynolds being taken away by police in November 1968 after spending five years on the runArrest: Reynolds being taken away by police in November 1968 after spending five years on the run
Family: Reynolds, left, with his wife Frances as well as fellow robber John Daly and his wife BarbaraFamily: Reynolds, left, with his wife Frances as well as fellow robber John Daly and his wife Barbara
Jim HusseyGang: Reynolds, centre, with his accomplices Buster Edwards, Tom Wisbey, Jim White, Roger Cordrey, Charles Wilson and Jim Hussey in 1979
Heist: The train which was targeted by the robbers pictured soon after the crimeHeist: The train which was targeted by the robbers pictured soon after the crime
Scene: The bridge where the bandits held up the train and attacked its workersScene: The bridge where the bandits held up the train and attacked its workers
Carnage: Inside a carriage of the mail train in the aftermath of the robbery in 1963Carnage: Inside a carriage of the mail train in the aftermath of the robbery in 1963
Cash: Detectives search through sacks of banknotes which were stolen in what was then a record robberyCash: Detectives search through sacks of banknotes which were stolen in what was then a record robbery
Investigation: A policeman picks up the train driver's hat from the railway tracks near the ambush siteInvestigation: A policeman picks up the train driver’s hat from the railway tracks near the ambush site
Father and son: Reynolds with his son Nick, an artist who is a member of the band Alabama ThreeFather and son: Reynolds with his son Nick, an artist who is a member of the band Alabama 3

THE FUNERAL OF BRUCE REYNOLDS: A CONGREGATION OF MURDERERS AND ASSORTED VILLAINS

THE MEAT CLEAVER MAN

Dave Cortney (left) and Chris Lambriano attend the funeral of Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery of 1963 at St Bartholomew The Great Church in Smithfield, LondonDave Cortney (left) and Chris Lambriano attend the funeral of Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery of 1963 at St Bartholomew The Great Church in Smithfield, London

Dave Courtney, 54, (pictured left – speaking to Chris Lambrianou, right) claims to have been shot, stabbed and had his nose bitten off. He also says he’s had to kill to stay alive.

The underworld hardman, who was jailed in the Eighties for attacking five men with a meat cleaver, is said to have been a debt collector for the Kray twins.

In this role, he cultivated a reputation for using the knuckleduster. He claims he was the model for Vinnie Jones’s character in the 1998 film Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. However, it’s been suggested that he’s embellished his past so his books sell better.

THE KILLER TURNED CHRISTIAN

Chris Lambrianou, 75, was involved in the attempt by the Krays to muscle in on Birmingham in the 1960s – but failed to wrest control of the city’s bars. He was handed 15 years in prison for his part in the 1967 murder of Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie.

Lambrianou later turned to religion and after his release he moved to Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, to live a quiet life.

BROWN BREAD FRED
Freddie Foreman – aka ‘Brown Bread Fred’ – was a key associate of the Krays. Now 80, he was linked to the 1960s killings of ‘Mad Axeman’ Frank Mitchell and Tommy ‘Ginger’ Marks.

Foreman (right) has admitted he was asked by the Krays to kill  Mitchell. He shot him in the back of a van and had his body dumped at sea.

Marks was killed for arranging the shooting of Foreman’s brother George. Foreman was jailed for ten years in 1975 as an accessory to the killing of McVitie and served six years from 1989 for his role in the 1983 £7million Security Express robbery.

Biggs
Biggs

Notorious: Ronnie Biggs, pictured left at the time of the robbery and right in 2011, is the best-known of the gang after escaping from prison and spending decades on the run

Injuries: Jack Mills, driver of the train which the gang targeted, after being beaten by the robbersInjuries: Jack Mills, driver of the train which the gang targeted, after being beaten by the robbers
Police: Jack Slipper, left, and Gerald McArthur, right, were two officers intimately involved with the investigation
Gerald McArthur

Police: Jack Slipper, left, and Gerald McArthur, right, were two officers intimately involved with the investigation

Audacious thieves who shocked the nation: Where the Great Train Robbers ended up

By James Rush

Ronnie Biggs
Jim Hussey

Ronnie Biggs (left): The most famous of the train robbers, even though he played a minor role as a contact for the replacement train driver. He is best known for his escape from prison in 1965 and living as a fugitive for 36 years. He voluntarily returned to the UK in 2001 and spent several years in prison. During this time his health rapidly declined and on August 6, 2009, he was released from prison on compassionate grounds.

Charles Frederick (Charlie) Wilson (right): The treasurer whose role was to give the robbers their cut of the haul. He earned the nickname ‘the silent man’ after he was captured because he refused to say anything during his trial. Jailed for 30 years but escaped after four months. Was captured in Canada four years later and served another ten years in jail. Moved to Spain in 1978 where he was shot and killed by a hitman on a bicycle in 1990.

Jim Hussey
Roy James

Ronald ‘Buster’ Edwards (left): Fled to Mexico after the robbery but gave himself up in 1966. After nine years in jail he became a familiar figure selling flowers outside London Waterloo. Killed himself in 1994 at the age of 62. He was played by singer Phil Collins in the 1988 film Buster.

Roy James (right): The chief getaway driver left a fingerprint at the gang’s farm hideout and was caught following a rooftop chase. He moved to Spain after serving 12 years of a 30 year sentence. He was jailed again for six years in 1993 for shooting his wife’s father and hitting her with a pistol, and died soon after being released, at the age of 62.

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Jim Hussey

Tommy Wisbey (left): One of the ‘heavies’ of the gang, Wisbey was there to frighten the train staff. Was jailed for 30 years and released in 1976 before being jailed for another ten years in 1989 for dealing cocaine. After being released he lived in north London, where he suffered a number of strokes.

Jimmy Hussey (right): ‘Big Jim’ died last year after apparently making a deathbed confession claiming he was the gang member who coshed the train driver. He was sentenced to 30 years for the robbery. After he was released in 1975 he eventually opened a restaurant in Soho after working on a market stall. He was convicted for assault in 1981. He was then jailed for seven years, eight years later, for a drug smuggling conspiracy, along with Wisbey.

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Roger Cordrey (left): Was jailed for 20 years after being arrested in Bournemouth. He was caught after renting a lock-up from a policeman’s widow. His sentence was reduced to 14 years on appeal. The florist returned to the flower business after he was released in 1971 and moved to the West Country.

Jimmy White (right): The ‘quartermaster’ for the robbery. The former Paratrooper was caught in Kent after being on the run for three years and was sentenced to 18 years, He moved to Sussex after being released in 1975.

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Douglas Gordon Goody (left): Was released in 1975 after being sentenced to 30 years in jail. After being released the hairdresser moved to Spain to run a bar.

John Daly (right): Reynold’s brother-in-law was arrested after his fingerprints were discovered on a Monopoly set linked to the case, but was acquitted when he successfully argued this did not prove he was involved.

Bobby Welch: Was also jailed for 30 years and released in 1976. The nightclub boss was left crippled after an operation on his leg went wrong. After being released from jail he became a gambler and a car dealer in London.

Brian Field: The solicitor was used to make the arrangement to buy the farm hideout used after the robbery. Jailed for 25 years, which was later reduced to five. He later died in a motorway crash in 1979.

Bill Jennings: The criminal who was hired to decouple the carriage with the cash in it was never caught and brought to justice.

Four other people were believed to be involved in the heist, but have never been identified. They include ‘The Ulsterman’, a key figure whose real name is a complete mystery.

THE TRAGIC SUICIDE BY HANGING OF PC DAVID RATHBAND – 29TH FEB 2012……R.I.P

ORIGINAL HANDWRITTEN AND SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH SENT BY PC DAVID RATHBAND TO THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL BACK IN SEPTEMBER 2011.

NOW ON DISPLAY ALONG WITH A BRIEF DISPLAY INTO THE BACKGROUND AND SUBSEQUENT TRAGIC SUICIDE OF PC DAVID RATHBAND 

PC DAVID RATHBAND SUICIDE BY HANGING  ANNOUNCED

Moat cop David Rathband found dead in ‘suicide’

MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR PC DAVID RATHBAND  10TH MACH 2012 

FUNERALSERVICE OF PC DAVID RATHBAND , TO SEE VIDEO PLEASE CLICK ON BELOW IMAGE 

AS REPORTED BY THE SUN NEWSPAPER

Pc David Rathband
So brave … PC David Rathband lost his sight in shooting
By ROBIN PERRIE
Published: 01st March 2012

THE cop blinded by gun maniac Raoul Moat was found dead at his home in a suspected suicide last night.

Separated ... David and Kath Rathband

PC David Rathband, 44, had struggled to cope after being blasted in the face by Moat in July 2010.

Cops found the dad-of-two’s body in Blyth, Northumberland.

Ex-bouncer Moat, 37, had already shot dead his former girlfriend’s new man Christopher Brown, 29, in his rampage in July 2010. He also blasted and wounded his ex Samantha Stobbart, 22.

Rathband died two days after returning home to Blyth following a month-long visit to see his twin Darren in Adelaide, Australia.

david rathband
Last picture … smiling David Rathband sunbathes in Australia days before his death

Before the end of his break he posted a string of disturbing messages on Twitter suggesting he was considering suicide.One read: “RIP PC Rathband.”

In another tweet he wrote: “I am flying home on Monday and will say goodbye to the children.”

He also commented on the lack of contact with wife Kath and said that she just wanted to be friends.

Rathband revealed they had split last November.

In another tweet he wrote how he had lost “my sight, my job, my wife and my marriage”.

His mood later appeared to improve when he said he was looking forward to the future.

PC DAVID RATHBAND
Wounds … PC Rathband in hospital after Raoul Moat’s attack

He also said: “Very emotional few days but back on track. Now focusing on my trip back to the UK and the road ahead.”He also thanked his Twitter followers for their messages of support.

In the last-known picture of David — tweeted by Darren — he was seen sunbathing at a police recuperation centre just six days before his death.

Northumbria Police would not comment on the cause of death last night — but it was feared Rathband hanged himself.

Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “I am deeply saddened to have to confirm the death of PC David Rathband and my thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.

“In July 2010 his life changed for ever when he was shot and blinded by Raoul Moat. David showed outstanding bravery in what was a terrifying situation. He was a dedicated officer who acted in the best traditions of the police service.”

A police spokesman added no-one else was being sought in connection with the incident.

Raoul Moat

Maniac … Raoul Moat shot PC Rathband during gun rampage in July 2010

“He was declared dead at the scene. A police investigation is under way. The coroner has been informed.”The street where the brave bobby lived was cordoned off last night as an officer stood guard. Forensics experts were at the scene.

A spokesman for the The Blue Lamp Foundation – a charity started by David to help emergency services personnel injured in the line of duty as the result of a criminal act – last night said: “It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of David Rathband. Since being shot in July 2010, David struggled to come to terms with his horrific injuries and the traumatic effect they had on him and his family and friends.

“David’s legacy will live on in the form of The Blue Lamp Foundation. It was David’s wish that those who found themselves in a similar position to him could receive the support that wasn’t available to him at the time.

“David’s family have asked that their privacy be respected at this time and they are allowed the time and space to reflect and grieve.”

Bodybuilding nut Moat had just been freed from prison when he went on his rampage with a sawn-off shotgun on July 3, 2010.

He fled after shooting Samantha and Christopher in Gateshead — and next day blasted Rathband as he sat in his patrol car in Newcastle.

David later said: “I looked into his eyes and saw nothing — no emotion. Then I felt the pain full-on in my face.

“I knew my right eye socket had just exploded and my eye had gone.”

Just 12 minutes earlier steroid freak Moat had phoned 999 to “declare war” on the police.

He went on the run for seven days before he was cornered in Rothbury, Northumberland. He killed himself after a tense stand-off with police.

Video: David Rathband found dead

PC blinded by gunman Raoul Moat in suspected suicide

Rathband bravely struggled to cope with his blindness but it proved too much. He split with wife Kath, 42, and moved out of the marital home in a bid to learn to live independently.

Rathband, who had a son, 19, and daughter, 13, admitted last July that he had suicidal thoughts. He said in an interview: “I’m not a robot, I have been badly affected by what’s happened.

“I have to wait and see but as long as I have the conviction to carry on doing the best by my family then I don’t think I can go far wrong.”

PC David Rathband,

Wife … PC Rathband with Kath

North News and Pictures

But last November Rathband revealed his marriage was over after a trial separation.

The previous August police visited the couple’s home. They were responding to reports of an alleged assault but no further action was taken.

DAVID RATHBAND

So proud … cop David

After the split, Rathband was said to have formed a close friendship with 7/7 survivor Lisa French.

Last July he received a special recognition award from PM David Cameron at the Sun-backed Police Bravery Awards. Locals were stunned by the tragedy last night.

PC Rathband’s street was cordoned off with police tape with an officer standing guard.

A teenage girl, who went to the same school as Rathband’s son, said: “PC Rathband was a lovely man and I thought they were a lovely family.

“He did a speech at my friend’s funeral last year and I am really shocked to hear about what has happened. I can’t believe it.

“His family and friends will all be absolutely devastated. It is such a shock to hear that he has died.”

Northumberland

Police … at Rathband’s home last night

North News & Pictures ltd

A neighbour added: “It is a big shock. Everyone knows him around here. He was a prominent figure and everyone felt for him knowing what he had been through after he was shot. He seemed very brave.

“I don’t know how it has happened but it is tragic.”

THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY-THE SECRET TAPES & BEYOND

THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY-THE SECRET TAPES

On August 8 1963, a Royal Mail train was making its way to London from Glasgow. It was intercepted at Ledburn, Bucks by a gang of masked men who escaped with £2.6million, equivalent to at least £50million in today’s money. The incident would enter British folklore as ‘The Great Train Robbery’. The police took just a few weeks to find the gang members, arrest them and put them behind bars, and their work was hailed as the pinnacle of policing.

However, three months into a 30-year sentence, Ronnie Biggs, one of the gang members, escaped from Wandsworth prison and overnight became Britain’s most wanted man. The police and the establishment were left embarrassed, and ordinary people started to root for this antihero. The media rolled out the Biggs story like a soap opera – and he has rarely been out of the media ever since.

Despite his notoriety, the truth behind his escape has remained a mystery. Biggs has been involved with a number of heavily managed appearances and sensationalised interviews for the tabloid press. However, none of these has revealed anything new or got remotely close to finding out what Ronnie really got up to in his years in exile. Now, over four hours of previously unheard tapes recorded by ‘Daily Express’ journalist Colin Mackenzie – who tracked him down in Rio, Brazil in 1974 – reveal the real Ronnie Biggs for the first time.

BELOW IS A VERY BRIEF PICTORIAL INSIGHT INTO SOME OF THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBER – RONNIE BIGGS PERSONALLY SIGNED ITEMS HERE ON DISPLAY AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL .

AN OLD BUILDERS MERCHANT RECEIPT SIGNED BY RONNIE BIGGS WHILST COLLECTING SOME CHIPBOARD MATERIALS FOR A JOB HE PROBABLY NEVER FINISHED FOR TURBO MACHINES LTD. (WHO WERE BASED IN STATION ROAD , DORKING, SURREY ) DATED 28TH AUGUST 1963  , ONE WEEK BEFORE CAPTURE AND POLICE ARREST  AND SOME 20 DAYS AFTER THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY TOOK PLACE . CLEARLY RONNIE BIGGS SIMPLY  STAYED LOW KEY AND CARRIED ON HIS NORMAL GENERAL BUILDING ACTIVITIES  .

HERE IS A PERSONAL PICTURE OF THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBER RONNIE BIGGS WITH ANDY JONES OF THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION WHEN WE RECENTLY VISITED RONNIE AT HIS NURSING HOME , HE IS STILL UNDER LICENCE WITH THE HOME OFFICE PRISON AUTHORITIES .
HERE AT THE JAIL THERE ARE SEVERAL EXHIBITS RELATING TO THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY FOR WHICH BRUCE REYNOLDS (THE MASTERMIND) AND RONNIE HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO OVER THE YEARS .

Ronnie Biggs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ronnie Biggs
Born Ronald Arthur Biggs
8 August 1929 (age 82)
Lambeth, London, England, United Kingdom
Charge(s) Robbery
Penalty 30 years in prison
Status Released on compassionate grounds[1]
Occupation Carpenter[citation needed]
Spouse Charmian Brent (1960 – ?)
Raimunda de Castro
(2002 – present)
Children Nicholas (deceased)
Christopher
Farley Paul
Michael

Ronald Arthur “Ronnie” Biggs (born 8 August 1929) is an English criminal, known for his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, for his escape from prison in 1965, for living as a fugitive for 36 years and for his various publicity stunts while in exile. In 2001, he voluntarily returned to the United Kingdom and spent several years in prison, where his health rapidly declined. On 6 August 2009, Biggs was released from prison on compassionate grounds.[2]


Great Train Robbery

Biggs was born in the London Borough of Lambeth, England. In 1947, at age 18, he joined the RAF but was dishonorably discharged in 1949 for desertion, serving for only two years. In 1960, he married Charmian Brent, with whom he had three sons (one deceased). In 1963, Biggs participated in the Great Train Robbery. Together with other gang members, he stole £2.6 million from a mail train, the equivalent of around £40 million (US$67 million) today, after holding up a mail train from Glasgow to London in the early hours of the morning on 8 August 1963 (his 34th birthday).[3][4] Jack Mills, the engine driver, was badly beaten with an iron bar in the course of the robbery. 11 of the 15-strong gang were jailed for the crime but Biggs was given the heaviest sentence because the judge “decided he was the brains behind the crime”, receiving concurrent sentences of 25 and 30 years.[5] Biggs served 19 months before escaping from HM Prison Wandsworth on 7 July 1965 by scaling the wall with a homemade rope ladder and dropping on to a waiting removal van.[3][6] He initially fled to Brussels via boat, then to Paris with his wife Charmian and two sons, Farley and Chris, where he acquired new identity papers and underwent plastic surgery.[4]

[edit]Australia

In 1966, Biggs took a BOAC flight to Sydney, where he lived for several months before moving to the seaside suburb of Glenelg in Adelaide, South Australia.[4] He was soon joined by his wife and two children. In 1967, just after their third child was born, Biggs received an anonymous letter from England telling him that Interpol suspected that he was in Australia and that he should relocate. In May 1967, the family moved to Melbourne, Victoria where he rented a house in the suburb of Blackburn North. In Melbourne, he had a number of jobs before undertaking set construction work at the Channel 9 TV studios. In October 1969, a newspaper report by a Reuters correspondent claimed that Biggs was living in Melbourne and that police were closing in on him. The story then led the 6 o’clock news at Channel 9, so Biggs immediately fled his home, staying with family friends in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Five months later, Biggs fled on a passenger liner from the Port of Melbourneusing the doctored passport of his friend. Biggs’ wife and sons stayed behind in Australia. Twenty days later, the ship berthed in Panama. Biggs disembarked and within two weeks flew to Brazil.[4]

[edit]Rio de Janeiro

In 1970, when Biggs arrived in Rio, Brazil did not have an extradition treaty with the United Kingdom[6]. In 1971, Biggs’ eldest son, Nicholas, aged 10, died in a car crash.[7]

In 1974, Daily Express reporter Colin MacKenzie received information suggesting that Biggs was in Rio de Janeiro and a team consisting of MacKenzie, photographer Bill Lovelace and reporter Michael O’Flaherty confirmed this and broke the story. Scotland Yard detective Jack Slipper arrived soon afterwards but Biggs could not be extradited because Biggs’ then girlfriend (Raimunda de Castro, anightclub dancer) was pregnant: Brazilian law at the time did not allow the parent of a Brazilian child to be extradited.[5]

In April 1977 Biggs attended a drinks party on board the British frigate Danae, which was in Rio for a courtesy visit, but surprisingly he was not arrested.[7] While for the time being safe from extradition, Bigg’s status as a known felon prevented him from working, visiting bars or being away from home after 10 pm.[8] To supplement their income, Biggs’s family hosted barbecues at his home in Rio, where tourists could meet Biggs and hear him recount tales of his involvement in the Robbery (which was in fact minor). It was not just tourists, however. Biggs had heard that ex-footballer Stanley Matthewswas in Rio and invited him to his apartment. “We had tea on the small balcony at the rear of his home, and one of the first things he asked was, ‘How are Charlton Athletic doing?’ It turned out he had supported Charlton from being a small boy and had often seen me play at The Valley.”[9] “Ronnie Biggs” mugs, coffee cups and T-shirts also appeared throughout Rio.

Biggs recorded vocals on two songs for The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll SwindleJulien Temple‘s film about the Sex Pistols. The basic tracks for “No One is Innocent” (aka “The Biggest Blow (A Punk Prayer)”) and “Belsen Was a Gas” were recorded with guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook at a studio in Brazil shortly after the Sex Pistols’ final performance, with overdubs being added in an English studio at a later date. “No One is Innocent” was released as a single in the UK on 30 June 1978 and reached number 6 in the UK Singles Chart; the sleeve showing a British actor posing as Martin Bormann (Nazi Leader) playing bass with the group.

Following the extradition attempt, Biggs collaborated with Bruce Henry (an American double-bass player), Jaime Shields and Aureo de Souza to record Mailbag Blues, a musical narrative of his life that he intended to use as a movie soundtrack. This album was re-released in 2004 by whatmusic.com.[10]

In 1981, Biggs was kidnapped by a gang of ex-British soldiers and smuggled into Barbados. The kidnappers hoped to collect a reward from the British police but Barbados had no extradition treaty with the United Kingdom and Biggs was sent back to Brazil.[11] In February 2006, Channel 4 aired a documentary featuring dramatisations of the attempted kidnap and interviews with John Miller, the ex-British Army soldier who carried it out. The team was headed by security consultant Patrick King. In the documentary, King claimed that the kidnapping may have in fact been a deniable operation.[12]

Biggs’ son by de Castro, Michael Biggs, eventually became a member of the successful children’s program and music band Turma do Balão Mágico, bringing a new source of income to his father. In a short time, however, the band faded into obscurity and dissolved, leaving father and son in financial difficulty again.

In 1991, Biggs sang vocals for the songs “Police On My Back” and “Carnival in Rio (Punk Was)” by German punk band Die Toten Hosen. In 1993, Biggs sang vocals in 3 tracks for the album “Bajo otra bandera” by Argentinian punk band Pilsen.[13][14]

In 1997 the UK and Brazil ratified an extradition treaty. Two months later, the UK Government made a formal request to the Brazilian government for Bigg’s extradition. Biggs had stated that he would no longer oppose extradition.[5] English lawyer Nigel Sangster QC travelled to Brazil to advise Biggs. The extradition request was rejected by Brazilian Supreme Court, giving Biggs the right to live in Brazil for the rest of his life.[15][16]

[edit]Return to the UK

In 2001 Biggs announced to The Sun that he would be willing to return to the UK. Biggs was aware that he would be detained upon arrival in England and returned voluntarily on 7 May 2001, whereupon he was immediately arrested and re-imprisoned.[4] His trip back to England on a private jet was paid for by The Sun, which reportedly paid Michael Biggs £20,000 plus other expenses in return for exclusive rights to the news story. Ronald Biggs had 28 years of his sentence left to serve. Since his return he has had a number of health problems, including two heart attacks. His son said in a press release that, contrary to some press reports, Biggs did not return to the UK simply to receive health care[17] because health care was available in Brazil and Biggs had many friends and supporters who would certainly have contributed to any such expenses. Biggs’ stated desire was to “walk into a Margate pub as an Englishman and buy a pint of bitter“.[18] John Mills, Jack Mills‘ son, was unforgiving: “I deeply resent those, including Biggs, who have made money from my father’s death. Biggs should serve his punishment.”[19] Mills never fully recovered from his injuries sustained during the robbery. He died of an unrelated cause (leukaemia) in 1970.[20]

On 14 November 2001, Biggs petitioned Governor Hynd of HMP Belmarsh for early release on compassionate grounds based on his poor health. He had been treated four times at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich in less than six months. His health was deteriorating rapidly and he asked to be released into the care of his son for his remaining days. The application was denied. On 10 August 2005, it was reported that Biggs had contracted MRSA. His representatives, seeking for his release on grounds of compassion, said that their client’s death was likely to be imminent.[21] On 26 October 2005, the Home Secretary Charles Clarke declined his appeal stating that his illness was not terminalHome Office compassion policy is to release prisoners with three months left to live.[22] Biggs was claimed by his son Michael to need a tube for feeding and to have ‘difficulty’ speaking.

On 4 July 2007, Biggs was moved from Belmarsh prison to Norwich prison on compassionate grounds.[23] In December 2007, Biggs issued a further appeal, from Norwich prison, asking to be released from jail to die with his family: “I am an old man and often wonder if I truly deserve the extent of my punishment. I have accepted it and only want freedom to die with my family and not in jail. I hope Mr.Straw decides to allow me to do that. I have been in jail for a long time and I want to die a free man. I am sorry for what happened. It has not been an easy ride over the years. Even in Brazil I was a prisoner of my own making. There is no honour to being known as a Great Train Robber. My life has been wasted.”[24]

In January 2009, after a series of strokes that were said to have rendered him unable to speak or walk, it was claimed in the press that Biggs was to be released in August 2009 and would die a ‘free man’.[25] His son Michael has also claimed that the Parole Board might bring the release date forward to July 2009. On 13 February 2009, it was reported that Biggs had been taken to hospital from his cell at Norwich Prison, suffering from pneumonia.[26][27][28] This was confirmed the following day by his son Michael, who said Biggs had serious pneumonia but was stable.[29] News of his condition prompted fresh calls from his son Michael Biggs for his release on compassionate grounds.[30]

On 23 April the Parole Board recommended that Biggs be released on 4 July,[31] having served a third of his 30-year sentence. However, on 1 July Jack Straw did not accept the Parole Board’s recommendation and refused parole, stating that Biggs was ‘wholly unrepentant’.[2] On 28 July 2009, Biggs was readmitted to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with pneumonia. He had been admitted to the same hospital a month earlier with a chest infection and a fractured hip but returned to prison on 17 July 2009. His son Michael said, in one of his frequent news releases: “It’s the worst he’s ever been. The doctors have just told me to rush there.”[32]

On 30 July 2009, it was claimed by representatives of Biggs that he had been given ‘permission’ to challenge the decision to refuse him parole. However, the Home Office stated only that an application for the early release on compassionate grounds of a prisoner at HMP Norwich had been received by the public protection casework section in the National Offender Management Service.[33] Biggs was released from custody on 6 August, the day before his 80th birthday, on ‘compassionate grounds’.[34]

Following his release from prison, Biggs’ health improved, leading to suggestions that he might soon be moved from hospital to a nursing home.[35] In response to claims that Biggs’s state of health had been faked, his lawyer stated, “This man is going to die, there is going to be no Lazarus coming back from the dead, he is ill, he is seriously ill.”[35] However, Biggs himself stated, “I’ve got a bit of living to do yet. I might even surprise them all by lasting until Christmas, that would be fantastic.”[35]

On 29 May 2010, Biggs was again admitted to hospital in London after complaining of chest pain. He underwent tests at Barnet General Hospital. His son Michael stated, “he’s conscious but he’s in a lot of pain”.[36]

In August 2010, it was announced that Biggs would be attending a gala dinner where he would be collecting a lifetime achievement award for his services to crime.[37]

On 10 February 2011, Biggs was admitted to Barnet General Hospital with another suspected stroke. His son Michael said he was conscious and preparing to have a CT scan and a series of other tests to determine what had happened.[38]