Biggs was no great male, just robber who fleeced taxpayers

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From: Barrie Frost, Watson’s Lane, Reighton, Filey.

RONNIE Biggs, one of the Great Train Robbers responsible for the heist of £2.6m (around £40m in today’s money) from the Royal Mail night train from Glasgow in 1963, has died at the age of 84 years (Yorkshire Post, December 19).

In the last 50 years, Biggs has been portrayed as a celebrity criminal; a lovable rogue; a romantic fugitive fleeing from justice and a person who was some kind of hero for getting one over the British authorities. Sadly, he also got ‘one over’ the British taxpayers, courtesy of our governments and our legal and penal systems, which, once more, appear have a skewed idea of real justice.

Ronnie Biggs’s share of the proceeds of the robbery were around £150,000, but the gang made so many mistakes in moving their ill-gotten gains they were quickly caught, found guilty and Biggs received a 30-year prison sentence.

After serving only 15 months of this sentence in Wandsworth Prison he escaped by scaling the prison wall with the use of a rope ladder – a prisoner given a 30 year sentence can, somehow, find and use a rope ladder – unbelievable!

However, Biggs’s escape now triggered an international manhunt which finally, after living in many countries, Biggs was located in Brazil.

His so-called celebrity status and treatment by the Brazilian people gave Biggs a high life and he revelled in taking every opportunity to cock a snook at the British authorities and the British taxpayers. Lavish parties, champagne receptions, Biggs was in great demand with his lifestyle funded from the signing of T-shirts, posing for pictures with Japanese tourists, after-dinner speeches, and even a record release with a punk rock group.

Every opportunity was taken by Biggs to rub our noses in it. He had a child with a Brazilian girl so could not be extradited, even though Britain spent colossal amounts of money sending senior police officers in abortive attempts to do so.

However, Biggs was growing older and the passing of the years reduced his earnings as he became less of an attraction. In a double whammy, growing older led to him becoming very frail and very ill and his money ran out. Brazil had no free NHS service like Britain, no state pension for him to rely on, so just what could he do? How could he manage to pay for the treatment he needed?

Now eager to accept Britain’s care and to forget about the previous contempt he had shown for us, he decided to give himself up and return to Britain. Why did we allow this? Why didn’t we tell him to stay in Brazil? No ordinary flight home though for Biggs, oh no, that bastion of law and order, the Sun newspaper, sent out a private jet, with an entourage of medical and police officers, to bring him home. And, when Biggs arrived in Britain, this very frail man who could barely walk and was voluntarily giving himself up to sponge off us, was met at the airport by over 40 police officers.

The only consolation to the taxpayers? Imagine, if instead, a very dangerous, mass-murderer had been captured – the whole of Britain’s police force would have been required to attend.

Now returned to prison to complete his sentence, success had finally been achieved and justice had been done: not for the British taxpayers, don’t be silly, justice and success only applied to Ronnie Biggs.

Biggs’s stay in Belmarsh prison from 2001, cost the taxpayers over £350,000, plus £62,000 for the Norwich special unit for the elderly where he stayed, and a further £190,000 when he was transferred to Carlton Court Care Home in north London from 2009, and a state pension of £21,000 since his release from prison.

Biggs was part of a gang which stole £2.6m from Britain’s taxpayers; part of a gang which beat Jack Mills, the train driver, with iron bars, which many believe led to his death seven years later, yet ignoring the total and utter contempt Biggs showed for us, our governments feel perfectly entitled to shower hundreds of thousands of pounds of our money on the welfare of this criminal.

When it comes to common sense in Britain’s governments and their penal and legal systems, there is nothing common to be found, indeed common sense seems to be as rare as hen’s teeth.