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Delabole's Great Train Robber Dies

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8:45am 18th December 2013
(Updated 8:45am 18th December 2013)

Former Delabole resident turned Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs has died at the age of 84.

He was part of a 15 strong gang that robbed a Glasgow to London Royal Mail train in 1963 and escaped with a then record haul of £2.6m, the equivalent of more than £40m today.

He had spent part of his childhood in north Cornwall after being evacuated during the war, going to school in the village, where some still remember him.

He returned to London in 1942, but was recently invited to return for a class reunion - although by then was on the run having escaped from jail.

Biggs told The Cornish Guardian in 2007 that he dreamt of being able to walk down a Cornish country lane again.

He was last seen in public in March at the funeral of Bruce Reynolds who masterminded the audacious robbery.

The gang pounced shortly after 3am on August 8, 1963 as the train passed through the Buckinghamshire countryside close to Cheddington.

The train driver, Jack Mills, was struck with an iron bar and never worked again.

Biggs was jailed for his part in the robbery itself but for escaped from jail after serving just 15 months of a 30-year sentence.

He escaped from Wandsworth prison in south-west London by climbing a 30ft wall and fleeing in a furniture van.

The fugitive avoided British justice for almost 40 years, mainly living in Brazil and Australia.

He finally returned to England in 2001 as his health failed, and served eight years of his original sentence before being released on compassionate grounds in 2009.

Biggs lived his final years in a care home completely reliant on nursing staff.

In his 2011 biography, Odd Man Out: The Last Straw, Biggs said he believed the public saw him as a "loveable rogue".

Asked whether he was remorseful, he firstly replied "No", then qualified it by saying he regrets the robbery but not fleeing justice.

After suffering a series of strokes, Biggs used a homemade letters board to communicate and effectively dictated his book to a ghostwriter.

8:45am 18th December 2013

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