In the Media

Ronnie Biggs: I'll be remembered as a loveable rogue

PUBLISHED November 17, 2011

Ronnie Biggs said he would be remembered as Britain's "loveable rogue" as he made an appearance in public. The 82-year-old Great Train Robber said he was proud of his achievements, despite remorse for his crimes. Unable to physically speak after several strokes, Biggs responded to questions at a press event to publicise his book, Odd Man Out: The Last Straw by pointing to a word and letter board. Asked how the country perceived him, he spelled out "loveable rogue". His son, Michael, speaking on his behalf at the east London event, said Biggs had no regrets about voluntarily returning from Brazil in 2001 to face justice for the 1963 robbery. He had been working on the book since he was released from jail on compassionate grounds in 2009, the family said. Biggs is unable to walk or talk. His son described how he developed a life-threatening chest infection every three or four weeks. "This is probably the first and last time he is holding a press conference." Launching his book, Biggs expressed sorrow over the fate of Jack Mills, the driver of the robbed mail train, who died in 1970 having never made a full recovery after being coshed. But when asked whether any proceeds from the book would go to Mills's family, the ex-fugitive's son said: "That has not been discussed yet." The book updates Biggs's 1994 autobiography and has chapters covering his return to the UK, his time in prison, his release on compassionate grounds and his life since. He Biggs first suffered a stroke in 1998 and has been admitted to hospital several times since returning to Britain. Biggs was a member of a gang that made off with ?2.6m from a Glasgow to London mail train. He was sentenced to 30 years, but escaped from Wandsworth prison, south London, in a furniture van 15 months later and spent more than 30 years on the run, living in Spain, Australia and Brazil. Biggs says in the book that he is a "very different man to the one who went on the run from HMP Wandsworth back in July 1965". "Not only are there many, many more miles on the clock, but also there is the damage done to my body and soul by the strokes and other health problems that should have killed me already; and may have already done so by the time you get around to reading this," he writes. "I lay no claim to having been a perfect man who has led a faultless life, and never have, but I am a better man for the experiences of the past 50 years, a period in which I spent over three-quarters of my life trying to honestly maintain my family and myself as best I could. "It has been said by those who don't know me ? and who have never met me ? that I have no regrets, but that simply isn't true. I have always regretted the hurt I caused by my actions, and especially to my own family and friends." Ronnie Biggs Crime © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds