Great Train Robber Biggs freed

LONDON: Britain’s Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs has been officially released from his prison sentence, the Ministry of Justice told AFP today.

Biggs, who turns 80 on Saturday, is in a hospital in Norwich, eastern England, with severe pneumonia. He was being guarded by three prison officers before he was released on compassionate grounds.

“His licence conditions were formally signed off,” a spokeswoman for the ministry told AFP, meaning the final procedures for his release were completed.

“The prison staff who were in attendance before will have left the hospital now.” Biggs earned notoriety for his role in Britain’s 1963 Great Train Robbery, for which he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Escaping, he spent 35 years as a celebrity fugitive, living a party lifestyle in Brazil before returning home. Though he is now a free man, Biggs is unlikely to leave hospital any time soon. He is in frail health, unable to eat, speak or walk.

His son Michael emerged from the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital clutching his father’s release papers. “My father is now a free man,” he told reporters. “My father signed it himself which is pretty amazing because he’s not really capable of writing so to actually see my father trying to scribble his name was a very special moment.

“It’s a little scribble but it means a lot. “Regardless of the fact that my father is very ill, he still has a little bit of a sense of humour so my father shook hands with all the prison guards.”It was very emotional when the guards left. It was ‘what’s next?’”