Friday, August 07, 2009

Great Train Robber Biggs released !

Ronnie Biggs
Biggs has suffered several strokes and is fed through a tube

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs has been formally released from prison after being granted freedom on compassionate grounds.

Biggs is severely ill with pneumonia and Justice Secretary Jack Straw approved his release on Thursday after being told he is unlikely to recover.

The Ministry of Justice signed-off on his licence conditions, granting his formal release.

It said Biggs was now under the supervision of the Probation Service.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The licence papers have been signed on behalf of the Secretary of State and the Prison Service staff who were supervising him have been withdrawn."

The 79-year-old - in a Norfolk hospital - is said to be "over the moon".

His son Michael told the BBC he was "absolutely delighted" Mr Straw had reversed his decision on his father's parole, which was refused last month.

Speaking on the Today programme, he said: "My father has served a very long time in prison.

"In comparison to sentences which are being handed out nowadays it's pathetic that anyone would expect my father to serve 30 years for taking part in a train robbery.

"The reasons why my father didn't get parole is, he didn't show any repentance. My father did show remorse all through the years for having committed a crime.

"However, he has never regretted living the life he did, because had he done that he would never have had me as a son."

Michael Biggs
I'm just very hopeful that my father can have another few months ahead of him in his life

Biggs's son Michael

He said earlier that his father was unable to walk, read, write or speak and could not eat or drink.

Last month, Mr Straw said the 79-year-old should not be granted parole as he remained "wholly unrepentant" about his involvement in the 1963 robbery of a mail train.

But on Thursday Mr Straw said the medical evidence clearly showed "that Mr Biggs is very ill and that his condition has deteriorated recently, culminating in his readmission to hospital".

He added: "His condition is not expected to improve. It is for that reason that I am granting Mr Biggs compassionate release on medical grounds."

The inmate of Norwich Prison, who was serving a 30-year sentence, was taken to hospital in June suffering from a chest infection and was readmitted on Tuesday.

His son added: "All I can say is we are extremely happy at the moment.

"I'm just very hopeful that my father can have another few months ahead of him in his life."

The decision means Biggs will spend his 80th birthday on Saturday as a free man, although his condition means he will be unable to celebrate his release.

Ronnie Biggs

If his condition improves Biggs will be transferred to a nursing home in Barnet, north London, near his son's home.

Biggs, originally from Lambeth, south London, was a member of a 15-strong gang which attacked the Glasgow to London mail train at Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, in August 1963, and made off with £2.6m in used banknotes.

The train's driver, Jack Mills, suffered head injuries during the robbery.

Biggs was given a 30-year sentence, but after 15 months he escaped from Wandsworth prison, in south-west London, by climbing a 30ft wall and fleeing in a furniture van.

He was on the run for more than 30 years, living in Australia and Brazil, before returning to the UK voluntarily in 2001 in search of medical treatment.

He was sent to Belmarsh high-security prison on his return before being moved to a specialist medical unit at Norwich prison.

Ronnie Biggs's son Michael describes his father's reaction to his release




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