Ronnie Biggs Dies: Train Robber Who Escaped Prison Passes Away

Image: Ronnie Biggs Dies: Train Robber Who Escaped Prison Passes Away

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 12:48 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Ronnie Biggs, one of England's most reputed criminals as a train robber who went on to gain celebrity status through books and television shows, died this week at age 84, his publisher said Wednesday.

MPress publisher Cliff Moulder told CNN that Biggs' close family informed him of the death. MPress published Biggs' most recent books, "Odd Man Out: The Last Straw," and "The Great Train Robbery — 50th Anniversary Special."

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Biggs earned the nickname "The Great Train Robber" from a 1963 British rail robbery that was called at the time the "crime of the century," making him one of the most wanted men in the country.

Biggs and his associates escaped with the equivalent of 2.5 million pounds in used bank notes, or $10 million today. Shortly after he was arrested and sentenced to 30 years in prison but escaped 15 months into his sentence.

After getting plastic surgery in Paris, he lived on the run in Australia and Brazil, nations that refused to extradite him. He recorded a song with the Sex Pistols and capitalized on his celebrity until flying back to England in 2001 due to poor health, and was arrested, according to CNN.

He was released from prison in 2009 because of his health. His son Michael Biggs said that his father had expressed regret for the train robbery, but did not regret "living the life he had."

Biggs' fame divided people in England because of his gang's attack on train conductor Jack Mills during the robbery, according to NBC News. Mills was struck over the head during the robbery and died seven years later.

Many people believed that Mills died because he never recovered from the injuries he sustained during the train robbery.

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