I am currently running a game in the Crime forum at Bellaonline and I have to say that it is giving me some great ideas for articles. This one came from Mona Evans, Bellaonline's Astronomy editor. She posted about a criminal named Ronnie Biggs. I have never heard of him so in doing my research for this article, I was quite surprised at what I found out about him.
Ronnie Biggs actually lived a life of crime and a life of a celebrity because of his crime status. Born in London, England in 1929, his life of crime started when he was a teenager after his mother died from an ulcer. His crimes were all petty crimes and he even joined the Royal Air Force but was dishonorably discharged after getting into trouble with civilian police and military authorities, two years after joining the service. Biggs was arrested for stealing a car and received a short prison sentence. His crimes didn't stop after that and neither did his jail time. He was sentenced to three years plus in prison for robbery.
During his crime fueled life of the 1950's, Ronnie Biggs met and befriended a man named Bruce Reynolds. In 1960, Ronnie Biggs got married and swore that he would live his life on the straight and narrow from then on. For about three years, this was true. Biggs started a construction business with a friend but when he was having problems making it, he turned to his friend Bruce Reynolds for a loan. Reynolds had another idea. He wanted Ronnie Biggs to join him and his gang so they could rob a train. Against his better judgment, Biggs went along with it.
On August 8, 1963, Bruce Reynolds, Ronnie Biggs and thirteen other men robbed the Glasgow-to-London mail train and walked away with the equivalent of about 7 million dollars in U.S. Currency. This robbery went down in history known as The Great Train Robbery.
Ronnie Biggs, along with most of the other robbers were eventually caught and Biggs was sentenced to thirty years in prison. Fifteen months into his sentence, Ronnie Biggs escaped by scaling a thirty foot wall and spent the better part of the next thirty years on the run, going between Australia and Brazil. However, after escaping from prison, Ronnie Biggs went to France and had some plastic surgery done on his face to aid him in his hiding out. After France, he went to Australia where he met up with his wife and their children and lived there for awhile.
Then in 1969, Ronnie Biggs received word that the British authorities were closing in on him so he made his way to Brazil to live. His wife and children remained in Australia. In 1974, a man named Jack Slipper, an investigator for Scotland Yard, got wind of Biggs being in Brazil and went there to arrest him. However, Ronnie Biggs had a pregnant girlfriend in Rio de Janeiro, so Brazilian authorities refused to extradite a father of a Brazilian national. Brazil had no extradition treaties with the United Kingdom anyway. Supposedly free, Ronnie Biggs began his celebrity lifestyle. He held barbecues and charged people to come eat with him while he talked about his exploits, including the Great Train Robbery. He has made public appearances, did some advertising work and even sold t-shirts that read:
I Went to Rio and Met Ronnie Biggs...Honest. Then in 1978, he recorded a song with famed punk rockers the Sex Pistols called No One is Innocent and that song went to number 7 on the British charts. In 1994, Ronnie Biggs released his autobiography called Odd Man Out.
Finally, in 2001, after escaping from a couple of other arrest attempts, Ronnie Biggs went back to England to turn himself in to law enforcement. Due to his eventual health problems, Biggs was released from prison in 2009 on a compassionate release and died in 2013.
Ronnie Biggs died having a legacy of being known as one of the most famous criminals that you have probably never heard of.