Ronald Arthur Biggs was born in the borough of Lambeth
on August 8, 1929, the youngest of five children. In 1940 as a result of the Blitz
, Ronnie was evacuted to Cornwall
for two years to escape the dangers of London.
On his return he was sent to Santley Street School in nearby Clapham. In the following year Ronnie's mother died at the age of fifty-three. Soon after this tragic event, he was arrested for for the first time after stealing pencils from the Littlewoods department store. appeared in court on several more occasions that year charged with petty pilfering.
After this brief spell of lawbreaking, Ronnie seemed to to get back onto the straight and narrow when he joined the RAF in 1947, but 2 years later he found himself up in court again, this time for breaking into a chemist whilst AWOL. This earned him a 6 month prison sentence, which was spent in Lewes Prison for Young Offenders, and a dishonourable discharge from the Air Force. This seemingly taught the young Biggs nothing, as, under one month after being released he was re-arrested for stealing a car. This time he was sent to Wormwood Scrubs where he met Bruce Reynolds, who would be one of the men who worked with Ronnie for many years, before masterminding the Great Train Robbery .
For the next 14 years Ronnie was in and out of prison on a number of occasions, for a variety of misdemenours, before the 'big one' in 1963. In that year, on his birthday by a strange coincidence, Ronnie Biggs, Tommy Wisbey, Douglas Goody, James Hussey, Charlie Wilson, Robert Welch, Roy James, Roger Cordrey, Brian Field, Ronald 'Buster' Edwards and Bruce Reynolds robbed the Glasgow to London mail train just outside Cheddington in Buckinghamshire, and made off with £2.5 million, approximately equivalent to around £30 million nowdays.
The crooks were captured within the month and charged with conspiring to rob a mail train, carrying out a robbery with offensive weapons and receiving money knowing it to be stolen. Ronnie was sent to prison for a total of 30 years.
Fifteen months into his sentence, Ronnie and 3 conspirators scaled the walls of Wandsworth prison and jumped throught the roof of a waiting red red Pantechnicon truck. He briefly surfaced in Spain with with his wife Charmaine, who he married in 1953, and two sons, Farley and Chris, but soon moved to France, where he had plastic surgery to alter his appearence, then onto Australia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil during his life on the run.
There have been several attempts to recapture him, including, the first of which was in 1974, when Chief Superintendent Jack Slipper, who had no legal authority in Brazil, arrested Biggs in Rio De Janeiro .This attempt was rebuffed as the Brazilians prevented the British from extraditing him, due to the fact that he had fathered a child by his Brazilian girlfriend while hiding out and thus, under local law, couldn't be extradited. On the back of the high publicity this generated Biggs recorded a single with the Sex Pistols called No One is Innocent in an attempt to bolster his dwindling supply of cash. The most recent attempt to force him to return was a botched kidnapping effort in Barbados in 1981.
Since then Ronnie has suffered three stokes, one of which left him partially paralysed down his left side, and the mounting medical bills have drained to last of his cash, to the point where he was offering to hire himself out as a dinner partner, and sell autographed mermorabilia of his life in an attempt to make ends meet.
In an attempt to get the healthcare he now requires, Ronnie Biggs returned to the UK on the 8th of May 2001, when he was arrested and is currently awaiting trial in Belmarsh prison