Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs dies

Last updated 21:08 18/12/2013

Ronnie Biggs, the British criminal known for his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, has died at the age of 84.

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British train robber Ronnie Biggs has died aged 84.

Biggs was part of a gang of robbers, masterminded by Bruce Reynolds, that stopped the Glasgow-Euston overnight mail train in 1963 and escaped with £2.6 million, an amount equivalent to £40 million (NZ$79 million) today. It was the biggest robbery of its time.

The self-defined "crook" won worldwide notoriety after escaping Wandsworth prison in London in 1965 and living the high life in Rio de Janeiro and Sydney.

He spent 36 years on the run before finally being arrested and jailed in 2001.

Released from prison on compassionate grounds in 2009 because of ill health, he was being cared for in a north London nursing home.

He had become increasingly frail in recent years after suffering several strokes and died on Wednesday morning in London. He was last seen in public at Reynolds' funeral in March.

Biggs turned 84 on August 8, the 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery.

He said at the time he had few regrets about the crime that made him a household name.

Biggs, who could not speak and communicated 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 then 'the Crime of the Century'."

But he did regret that the train driver was injured.

"And he was not the only victim," Biggs said. "The people who paid the heaviest price ... 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."

Reynolds died in February.

- Sydney Morning Herald with agencies

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