Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs dies aged 84

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs has died aged 84, his spokeswoman said.

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Author 'very sad' to hear of Ronnie Biggs' passing

Author Mike Gray, who has written numerous books on the Great Train Robbery and on Ronnie Biggs, said he was sad to hear of his passing as "he has become part of my life and myself part of his."

Mr Gray, whose books include Ronnie Biggs: The Inside Story, said he visited Biggs every month for eight years while he was held at HMP Norwich and HMP Belmarsh.

Ronnie Biggs pictured in Brazil in 1980.
Ronnie Biggs pictured in Brazil in 1980. Credit: Tophams/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

He said: "He was never a bad person. His criminal CV was laughable before the train robbery and none of the train robbers wanted him on the robbery as they had never heard of him.

"He was only invited as mastermind Bruce Reynolds was Biggs' best pal and Biggs knew a retired train driver. Biggs always regretted the injury to [train driver] Mr Mills."

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Biggs' son: Great Train Robbery part of British history

Ronnie Biggs and his son Michael were interviewed in August at the memorial of Bruce Reynolds, dubbed the mastermind of the Great Train Robbery.

Michael Biggs told ITV News correspondent Simon Harris his father still had very clear memories of the robbery as he was "blessed with a photographic memory".

Asked how important it was to remember the heist, he said "Crime is always wrong so that should be at the top of everyone's agenda, however it is part of British history now ... that can't be changed."

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Union: We have always regarded Biggs as a nonentity

General secretary of the train driver's union Aslef said although they feel sorry for Ronnie Biggs' family, "We have always regarded Biggs as a nonentity, and a criminal, who took part in a violent robbery which resulted in the death of a train driver".

Train driver Jack Mills with his head bandaged.
Train driver Jack Mills never fully recovered following the Great Train Ribbery. Credit: PA/PA Wire

Mick Whelan said, "Jack Mills, who was 57 at the time of the robbery, never properly recovered from the injuries he suffered after being savagely coshed by the gang of which Biggs was a member that night."

Mr Mills died a few years after the Great Train Robbery took place.

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Biggs last seen publicly at Great Train Robber memorial

Ronnie Biggs was last seen in public at the memorial of Bruce Reynolds, dubbed the mastermind of the Great Train Robbery, which took place in August.

Ronnie Biggs earlier this year at Highgate Cemetry in London where the ashes of fellow Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds were buried.
Ronnie Biggs earlier this year at Highgate Cemetry in London where the ashes of fellow Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds were buried. Credit: ITV News/Simon Harris
Ronnie Biggs pictured in March.
Ronnie Biggs died early today aged 84. Credit: ITV News/Simon Harris

Ex-British Rail COO conveys sympathy for Biggs' family

Peter Rayner, former chief operating officer of British Rail, has been critical of Ronnie Biggs in the past, but expressed sympathy for his family.

Mr Rayner said:

My view is that whilst I was - and am - critical of the Great Train Robbers and the heroes' welcome they got, especially in light of the death of Jack Mills, my sympathies go out to his family and I would not wish to speak further on the subject.

Ronnie Biggs: Quotes from his time on the run

Ronnie Biggs was on the run for 35 years after escaping from Wandsworth prison and making his way to Rio de Janerio.

Here are some of Biggs' more memorable quotes from his time on the run:

Ronnie Biggs jokes with his son Michael in November 2011.
Ronnie Biggs jokes with his son Michael in November 2011. Credit: REUTERS/Paul Hackett

"One report said that since my time on the run I've had 2,500 girlfriends. I mean you got to realise, I've been on the run for more than 30 years, I have got to have had more than that."

"There's a difference between criminals and crooks. Crooks steal. Criminals blow some guy's brains out. I'm a crook."

The police record sheet of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs.
The police record sheet of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs. Credit: IAN NICHOLSON/PA Archive/Press Association Images

"It has been rumoured that I was the brains of the robbery, but that was totally incorrect. I've been described as the tea boy, which is also incorrect."

"I don't have any intentions to return to England. I would go back if I could return as a free person. I don't want to return to prison."

Ronnie Biggs seen celebrating his 69th birthday on August 8, 1998.
Ronnie Biggs seen celebrating his 69th birthday on August 8, 1998. Credit: EPA EUROPEAN PRESS AGENCY/PA Archive/Press Association Images

"I am no longer a criminal. I gave up that practice years ago.

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