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British 'Great Train Robber' Ronnie Biggs Dead At 84

One of the most notorious criminals in British history, \"Great Train Robber\" Ronnie Biggs, died in London at age 84.
Posted at 10:04 AM, Dec 18, 2013

One of the most notorious criminals in British history, "Great Train Robber" Ronnie Biggs, died in London early Wednesday. He was 84 years old.

The cause of death was unclear early Wednesday, but Biggs had reportedly been in poor health for years after suffering multiple strokes, and he could barely walk or talk. (Via Sky News)

Shortly after the news of his death broke, Biggs's publisher tweeted, "Sadly, we lost Ron during the night. As always, his timing was perfect to the end. Keep him and his family in your thoughts." (Via Twitter / @RonnieBiggsNews)

Though his last days were reportedly spent lying in a bed in a nursing home, the rest of Biggs' life was anything but normal.

"Great Train Robber" Biggs got his nickname from a 1963 train heist that has since been dubbed the crime of the century and transformed him from a petty thief into one of the most wanted men in Britain. (Via ABC Australia)

He was one of 15 professional criminals who held up a night mail train traveling from Glasgow to London and made off with a record 2.5 million pounds — an amount that would equal around $65 million today. (Via BBC)

Most of the group, including Biggs, was busted soon after police found fingerprints at a farmhouse where the robbers were hiding out.

Biggs was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his involvement in the heist. But after serving only 15 months, he made a break for it using only a rope ladder to scale the prison's wall. (Via The Guardian)

And he managed to stay out, too. Biggs was on the run for 36 years and reportedly spent much of that time overseas in Australia and Brazil.

Authorities did catch up with him after a few years, but attempts to bring him back to the U.K. were stalled because he had fathered a son in Rio by then, and officials denied Britain's requests to extradite him because of that. (Via The Telegraph)

Biggs continued to live as a celebrity fugitive until 2001, when his health took a turn for the worse and his funds started to dwindle.

He flew back to Britain on a private jet and was immediately locked up in a high security prison. But because of his health and age, he was soon moved to a facility for elderly offenders. (Via The Guardian)

A few years later, Biggs was granted parole on compassionate grounds and sent to a nursing home where he could be better cared for. He stayed there until his death. (Via The Sun)

Biggs was the subject of multiple books, including a couple he wrote himself, movies, TV shows and even lent his voice to a Sex Pistols song. But his son has said his father did regret the robbery that made him famous.

"Crime doesn't, crime doesn't pay." (Via ITV)