Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Big One: Ronald Biggs and the Great Train Robbery


In May 2001 Ronald Biggs sent a one page e-mail to Detective Chief Superintendent John Coles, the head of Scotland Yard's Serious and Organized Crime Group.  It allegedly said: "I would like to give myself up to you.  I need passport documentation to travel back to Britain.  I am prepared to be arrested at the gate when I arrive at Heathrow airport and submit myself to the due process of the law."

Citing ill health after suffering a stroke, his third in two years, the 71-year-old Biggs expressed a desire to end his days on home soil.  He told the BBC, "I am a sick man. My last wish is to walk into a Margate pub as an Englishman and buy a pint of bitter.   I hope I live long enough to do that.

On May 7, 2001, a private jet carrying Ronald Biggs touched down at Northop RAF base in Middlesex, U.K.  Detective Chief Superintendent Coles and a contingent of police met the plane and took Biggs into custody and transported him to Belmarsh prison hospital.  Later the same day he appeared at a West London magistrates court and was ordered back to prison to serve the remaining 28 years of his original 35-year sentence.

Newspapers celebrate re-capture of Biggs
Newspapers celebrate re-capture of Biggs

Despite numerous appeals, Ronald Biggs still spends each and every day laying in a prison hospital bed being fed through a tube having lost the ability to feed himself or speak since suffering a fourth stroke nearly two years ago.

To this day his son Michael wages a constant battle with British authorities to secure his fathers release so he can live out his final days free from prison, but it seems as though Ronnies famous luck has finally run out.

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