Ronnie Biggs is dead
LONDON (AP) – The Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs is dead.
Biggs died today at 84, daughter-in-law Veronica Biggs said. She did not provide details about the cause of death.
Biggs was a petty criminal who set out to transform his life with the daring heist of a mail train packed with money.
The plan worked in ways he could never have imagined.
Biggs was part of a gang of at least 12 men that robbed the Glasgow-to-London Royal Mail Train in the early hours of August 8, 1963, switching its signals and tricking the driver into stopping in the darkness.
The robbery netted 125 sacks of banknotes worth 2.6 million pounds – $7.3 million at the time, or more than $50 million today – and became known as “the heist of the century”.
Biggs was soon caught and jailed, but his escape from a London prison and decades on the run turned him into a media sensation and something of a notorious British folk hero.
He lived for many years beyond the reach of British justice in Rio de Janeiro, where he would sometimes regale tourists and the media alike with stories about the robbery. He appeared to enjoy thumbing his nose at the British authorities and even sold T-shirts and other memorabilia about his role in the robbery.
He was free for 35 years before voluntarily returning to England in 2001 in a private jet sponsored by The Sun tabloid.
Most of the Great Train Robbery gang was caught and sentenced to long terms in jail. Biggs got 30 years, but 15 months into his sentence he escaped from London’s Wandsworth Prison by scaling a wall with a rope ladder and jumping into a waiting furniture van.
It was the start of a life on the run that would hone his image of being a cheeky rascal one step ahead of the law.