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EDITIONS
Monday, 14 May, 2001, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Should Ronnie Biggs be made to pay?
The Great Train robber, Ronnie Biggs, has been arrested in the UK after 35 years in exile.

Biggs has been living abroad since escaping from prison in 1965 after serving 15 months for his part in the 2.6m Great Train Robbery.

The 71-year-old reportedly claims he is in failing health after recently suffering his third stroke and wishes to walk into a Margate pub and buy a pint of bitter.

Should Biggs he be subjected to the full force of the law?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

Ronnie Biggs should finish his sentence

Derek Watson, UK
Ronnie Biggs should finish his sentence. This will probably mean he will die in a prison hospital. To release him except for his last few days would be sending the wrong message to criminals who try to dodge justice.
Derek Watson, UK

Perhaps a more fitting punishment for Ronnie Biggs would be to free him from jail and let him try and exist as a penniless pensioner in Blair's Britain. He might decide to go back to Brazil once he realises what he's let himself in for.
James, UK

Funny, isn't it, how a man who is well enough to spend several hours in a transatlantic flight suddenly becomes "severely ill" when it suits him and his sycophantic followers. Just who do they think they are kidding?
Paul, London, England

Should Ronnie Biggs be made to pay ? The question is not "what for" or "why" but "what with"? He has nothing to lose now but may gain some fame in his declining years sufficient to leave a rather more lucrative legacy behind him to his dependants. What would you do if you were once regarded as a master criminal - die in obscurity or go out with a bang and a better bank balance?
James Bruce Reid, Scotland

He is presented as some loveable, harmless rogue when he is nothing more than a common criminal


Laverne Anderson, England
Ronnie is no hero. Just like the Krays, he is presented as some loveable, harmless rogue when he is nothing more than a common criminal. Everyone seems to forget about the train driver who was coshed in the robbery, and later died a broken man. Also, The Sun should be held accountable for its role in this sorry affair and be made to pay for the police, court, hospital and plane costs associated with this sorry affair.
Laverne Anderson, England

I believe that Mr Biggs has served his sentence. 35 years on the run is enough. Let this man regain his freedom, squat on his home turf and be on his way.
Timothy l. Wright, USA

I think the decision to send him back to jail for the remaining 28 years of his sentence is absurd and has more to do with the pride of Scotland Yard and the Home Office than with justice. They're more concerned at their loss of face by the fact that he escaped than by what he did.

He should have been given a shorter sentence in the first place and could have spent at least the last 20 years in freedom here. If he robbed a train now he wouldn't get 30 years. I just can't help thinking people are trying to prove a point by banging him up for so long. Give him a few years, then let him out. Oh, and someone make sure he gets that pint.
Andrew, UK

He didn't sink into obscurity over there but revelled in his notoriety

George, UK
To those who think that Biggs should be allowed to live the rest of his life in peace, people are not so much angry at his crime as at the way he went to Brazil and stuck two fingers up at the UK, glorifying in his new life in the sun. He didn't sink into obscurity over there but revelled in his notoriety. That is why we can't forgive and forget.
George, UK

Absolutely! There seems to be a sense of celebration for the criminals of the 60's. Thugs, murders and thieves are looked at with a sense of nostalgia. Try putting yourself in the mindset of one of their victims or the victims' families and then see how much nostalgia and sympathy you feel. This man is pathetic, he is making a mockery of British justice.
Marie, UK

Let him go free its not as if he's going to do it again.
Ian Houghton, Wales

I will NOT be purchasing the Sun newspaper ever again

Paul, Scotland, UK
Let's get real. He's NOT going back to Brazil. He's NOT going to spend a long sentence in the slammer, and he IS going to get medical treatment at the taxpayers' expense. I will NOT be purchasing the Sun newspaper ever again. That's real too!
Paul, Scotland, UK

So, he's back where he belongs, in the UK and in prison. Looking at the TV pictures, he seems very ill, and is unlikely to "burden the UK taxpayer" for very long. The conduct of a certain tabloid rag throughout this matter is arguably every bit as serious as the issues around how best to treat an old man who took a minor part in a major crime nearly 40 years ago!
John, UK

It is important in the interests of justice (as distinct from law) that Biggs should serve the sentence he was given. The lesson for others would be quite intolerable was any other course to apply. He is a criminal and has been found guilty by a court. His age and health are not relevant.
Bryan Naylor, UK

The prison system screwed up in the first place by letting him escape and failed to recapture him. So what is all the excitement about? Let him go free!
Vern, Canada

How quickly we forget the victims of crime and focus on the "glamour" of criminals

Paul, UK
I think he should serve a reduced sentence given his infirmity. In my view justice is about both Punishment and Reform. He should be treated the same as any other person given his (granted, rather unusual) circumstances. If the original sentence was too harsh, it can be appealed. The Sun and the emotional response of the public are the saddest display of all. How quickly we forget the victims of crime and focus on the 'glamour' of criminals.
Paul, UK

The punishment does not fit the crime. There are rapists receiving sentences of just 5 years. Where is true justice? People's lives are infinitely more important than property or money.
Wayne, England

Of course he should complete his sentence. He committed a crime, was found guilty and sentenced. He escaped before his sentence was completed so he still has time to do. As for 'having served his sentence' in exile, since when did the British legal system allow felons to choose their place of 'imprisonment'?
Gary Dale, England

This episode is a shame for all of us Brazilian people

Fabricio J. Silva, Brazil
Even Biggs realise that the health system is Brazil is a nightmare! He is a very fortunate person, because he spend the best days of his life having fun in Rio and now will enjoy the great and marvellous social system that you have in UK. I think Brazil always refused to send him back, but now accepted that, this make Brazil responsible for his treatment in UK. This episode is a shame for all of us Brazilian people and our government!
Fabricio J. Silva, Brazil

Let him come back, lock him up, throw away the key and let the thieving villain rot. How about making the Sun newspaper pay for any costs incurred in keeping him in jail or treating him on the NHS as they are making pots of money out of this? Biggs is an unpleasant, selfish individual who does not deserve this mythic "Jack the Lad" image which has been built up around him as part of this bizarre glamourising of "lovable" Cockney criminals by the tabloid press.
David, Scotland

No one benefits from prosecuting an old has-been robber. There really is no point except wasting public funds.
Andrew Kemp, Malaysia

This talk of him having served his sentence "in exile" is utter nonsense. British justice may have gone soft while Mr Biggs has been living it up in Brazil, but we have yet to reach the stage where criminals can opt to serve their time at the resort of their choice. 110mph on a motorway, 400 fine and 6 points - or if you would prefer a weekend in Brighton. Thanks your worship, see you on the pier.
Jenni, England

He should serve the rest of his life behind bars

Paul Jonas, UK
If Ronnie Biggs had not escaped, the chances are that he would have been released by now. The only reason he has decided to return is because he wants to take advantage of our prison laws allowing early release in 'exceptional circumstances'. He should serve the rest of his life behind bars to complete his original sentence.
Paul Jonas, UK

Clearly crime does pay. Why should anybody care about making a contribution to society when you can get far more wealth and fame by being a criminal. Why should I declare my earnings to the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise? Why don't I bunk off with the dosh instead and let all those suckers who think Biggs is a loveable old rogue pay all the taxes?
Peter , England

Ronnie Biggs has come home to die. Give him compassion and his freedom. All those who want him to suffer even more should maybe question their own morality. He is a 71 year old man, maybe in his last few months of life, why increase his torment? It would serve no purpose.
Russ, UK

A lot of comments made here relate to the long term sentence given to Biggs in the first instance. I suspect a lot of the contributors are younger people. Yes he only stole from a train, but the robbery itself was out of the ordinary, in those days. The fact that murder IS an everyday occurrence in this country, proves that the threshold of tolerance for so-called petty crimes has reduced to almost nil. As long as the public at large accepts violent crime, persons like Mr Biggs will continue to beat the system, and then use it to their advantage again and again.
Steve Doust, England

Deport him to where he came from

Thomas Crown, Scotland
Deport him to where he came from. Lack of free health care and ending his days in exile and poverty is more apt than throwing him in prison where he'll be treated like a god. Also, send the bill for his deportation flight and any health treatment so far to The Sun.
Thomas Crown, Scotland

The most salient commentary I ever heard on the subject of Ronnie Biggs was from John Lydon (nee Rotten). When his former manager, Malcolm McLaren, drafted Biggs into the Sex Pistols in their post-Rotten era, Lydon stated that he was glad to be out of it because he did not want to be associated with "that kind of cheesiness". He leered angrily in towards camera in that familiar way of his and said "The driver they beat around the head with a cosh died later, badly brain-damaged and unable to work. That might have been my dad."
Patu Marplesi, UK

Yet again we are witnessing the selfishness of a petty criminal. Now that he's at death's door, he's returned for some free health care. Whether he lies in a hospital bed a free man or in custody is somewhat inconsequential to the patient. Either way the taxpayer will foot the bill. Why can't we put him back on a plane to Brazil, where he can fulfil the destiny he made for himself all those years ago?
Nigel Wakefield, England

Biggs' 30-year sentence was always more to do with State-sponsored vengeance than justice


Andy Richards, UK
I hold no brief for Ronnie Biggs who is no doubt a much over-romanticised individual. But it sickens me to witness the hypocrisy of Tory politicians who demand that he serve his full sentence. They weren't so forthright in demanding this in respect another sick old man (one Augusto Pinochet) whose crimes are in a somewhat different league. Biggs' 30-year sentence was always more to do with State-sponsored vengeance than justice, and it's time to show some compassion.
Andy Richards, UK

Make The Sun pay the whole lot. After all they have been so keen to sponsor his return thus far (all in the public's interest of course). Without them Ronnie would not have been able to return to soak up British taxpayers' money (whether inside or outside prison).
Joe S, UK

Biggs is a criminal not a folk hero. He ought pay for his crime. Why should I work 50hrs a week and pay all my taxes pay for a sponger. The Sun ought be prosecuted for aiding and abetting a known criminal. If they brought him back let them pay for him.
Martin, England

It's funny that Ronnie Biggs was sentenced to 35 years and Nick Leeson was in and out in a flash. Even by today's standards, the GTR haul was paltry compared to the $1.4 billion illegally misappropriated from Barings - but we never saw 50 Keystone Cops in hot pursuit of Leeson. What is this rancour towards Biggs? Let's give him a smashing 72nd birthday present and take him down that Margate pub. He's more than earned it for all the laughs and entertainment he's given us all.
Simon Cameron, UK

Once again the British public will have to pay for the futility and blatant stupidity of the tabloid press


Richard Lenthall, UK
Once again the British public will have to pay for the futility and blatant stupidity of the tabloid press. Yes, the Sun chartered the jet but after that every taxpayer in Britain will have to foot the bill for every step Biggs now takes. Policing, court hearings, appeal court hearings, health treatment and finally imprisonment. The costly aftermath will be left at our door while the Sun strolls off to the next sensation.
Richard Lenthall, UK

If he thinks that living in Brazil all these years was so bad - I'll take his villa in Brazil off his hands for him! I'd love that kind of punishment!
Ben Burns, England

We can either keep him in jail, at great expense, enabling him to enjoy immediate medical treatment, at even more expense. Or we can let him straight out, to join the back of a hopefully very long waiting list for NHS treatment.
Andy McConnell, UK

Leave the man in peace. The ridiculous term he was originally sentenced to made a mockery of the government of the day (the system.) Show the man some compassion, he didn't blow up any children out shopping with their parents, did he?
Clive, England

I wonder how many petty criminals have generated so much public opinion


Colin, Australia
I wonder how many petty criminals have generated so much public opinion. He's no threat to anyone and never was. His sentence was a greater crime than any he committed, and I can see no purpose being served by putting him in jail now. 35 years ago, if he'd been sentenced to 10 years with provision for early parole on grounds of good behaviour, he would have copped it sweet, done the time and we would never have heard of him again. The totally insane sentence he was given would have inspired any man to escape. 30 years just for robbing a train? I'm with you, Ronnie, and I'll buy you a pint any day, mate.
Colin , Australia

Regardless of age, if you do or did the crime, you do the time. I am tired of the glorified 'cowboy', 'Robin Hood-esque' accounts of his life. They told the story of what he did on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and never once mentioned that he coshed a guard. Stealing is just as bad as murder, rape, or any other crime. A crime is a crime.
E McKinnon, Canada

I am not a supporter of allowing criminals to 'get away with it' but Mr Biggs has lived most of his life on the run and now is in his final days, so I think we have got our justice.
Will, England

He should serve out his days quietly in a low security prison

Mark, Australia
Biggs was a folk hero. The crime was exciting, the escape from Wandsworth was exciting. What a story it has been. But that was another era. I don't think that there is any mileage to be gained in making the man suffer more just because of his notoriety. He should serve out his days quietly in a low security prison. He is no threat to the system now, but he should perhaps be made to fund his own chosen form of retirement.
Mark, Australia

The glorification of sixties criminals should stop. We should remember that the 'great train robbers' caused the early death of one of the train crew - I can only assume that he would have liked to live to 71 years old, something Biggs and his friends denied him - but he seems to expect us to accept that he is old and so we should let him go. I wonder how many of us saw the pictures of Biggs's birthday party where he had the modern criminal underworld of London present. Biggs's actions (along with others) ruined the life of that train crew member and led to his premature death - that is why they had long sentences and that is why he should go back to prison. He has had a nice life in Brazil and if anyone thinks that was a punishment for him, they should ask why he wasn't in a hurry to escape the 'hell' of Brazil before now!
Muiris, Wales

Let's all watch as Ronnie makes a mockery of the British government, justice system (if you can call it that) and the British taxpayers. Those who support him are just as pathetic.
Christopher W. Whybrow, Philippines / UK

I think 38 years outside of his mother country is enough

Adrian A., Switzerland
It is so stupid, Ronnie was 38 years in exile and police could not arrest him and now he returns by himself to London! After long time they will arrest him, this man is 71 years old. I think 38 years outside of his mother country is enough. Give Ronnie his freedom. Good luck, Ronnie.
Adrian A., Switzerland

While he's been sunning himself in South America for so long I've been paying my taxes here in the United Kingdom. Now put that tax to good use and find him a cell with a good strong door.
Simon D, England

What is Justice about? For a financial crime, 30 years is ultra harsh. So we have ruined what could have been a productive life. Is the justice system about reform or punishment?
Stephen, Canada

The Home Office were stupid to bring him back. If he had a passion to be home, then keeping him in Brazil is akin to punishment. The sentence in the first instance, from what I can understand, was extremely harsh. He is old and sick, either send him back to Brazil or let him go. Or will the heartless judgementalists win the day? The past is the past.
Peter, New Zealand

The people who live in this country should decide what penalty he should serve

Barry, UK
I think that people should look at this issue in a balanced way - this talk about cost to taxpayers; what planet are you living on? Sure the guy did a bad thing, but - Hello, haven't we all digressed along the road? Personally I think the guy should get the medical treatment he deserves and then the people who live in this country should decide what penalty he should serve - and I mean the people not the law courts...because we all know that they decide people's fate according to how much money they have!
Barry, UK

if Ronnie Biggs committed a murder today he would get less than he did for his original crime. All he did was rob a train, for goodness sake. He should be left to live his twilight years in peace.
Becki Lawrence, UK

Why put an old, sick, completely debilitated crook back in a "high security" prison? Perhaps because he might jump over another 12 feet high wall. Sometimes it is funny what the highest spheres of power do to show some power off. However the truth shows that until the end he has controlled the rules of the game, no matter what is said in the media. The authorities put their hands on him simply because he wanted, otherwise they wouldn't.
Alan, Brazil

Mercy? - not much hope of that with Jack Straw in charge. This is not a child killer or a torturer or a rapist. It's a small time guy who just got caught up with the big guys. His only claim to fame is that he escaped. To show mercy and allow him to live his last years in peace would show that England wasn't all bad. But I fear the poor sod will die in prison. Give him a token sentence of 5 years in a open prison. Then he can still have his pint in a English bar.
James, Holland

It ought to be up to a Higher Power to give him a fitting punishment

Paul R, UK
This is a crime that happened before I was born, and I'm the first to admit that I'm getting on a bit! I'm not normally in favour of criminals getting away Scot free, but if you escape the law for as long as he has, then it ought to be up to a Higher Power to give you a fitting punishment.
Paul R, UK

They should not have brought him back He should have stayed where he is. We will now have to pay to keep him.
Homer, UK

He has been sentenced, let him serve that sentence as a minimum. On top he should be punished for escaping and evading the law.
Andy McC, UK

Ronnie Biggs stole from this country then he turned his back on it. He's been out of this country for longer that I've been paying my NI contributions, and now he's back because he wants to sponge on the National Health Service! This country should turn its back on Ronnie Biggs. Its an absolute disgrace that he is being allowed to get away with it!
Pete, UK

He's had his fun now he wants a quiet retirement


HH, England
He's had his fun now he wants a quiet retirement, his medical needs catered for by the taxpayer. Fine. But in return he should cede to the State rights to any money made from his biography and any other assets he has. The Government should employ a good journalist to write a biography and sell it, the film rights etc, to repay the taxpayer. And Biggs can remain incarcerated at HMP for his remaining days.
HH, England

The man is a thief and a murderer. Why do we have to glorify criminals like Biggs and the Krays? If he still wants a pint - let it be prepared by the family of the train driver that was killed as a result of the 'great' train robbery
Paul, UK

At least he might qualify for a set of CDs and new trainers if he promises to be a good boy !!
Tony Heaton, UK

Ronnie Biggs has contributed an enormous amount to England's cultural life


Giles, Isle of Man
Let's face it, Ronnie Biggs has contributed an enormous amount to England's cultural life. He has become a living legend, an epitome of a dying age that many of us are becoming very nostalgic for. And let's not forget his collaboration with the Sex Pistols. All this more than compensates for any money that might have to be spent by the taxpayer on his medical treatment. So I think on his return to the UK he should be given an immediate pardon, an OBE and life membership of BUPA.
Giles, Isle of Man

The money he gets from the Sun newspaper should be used to pay any prison and medical costs incurred.
Graeme, Scotland

He is now an English escapee back in England and recaptured. It's that simple. But let's not ignore that he's old and sick. If we do, then we'll be acting spitefully.
Barrie Martindale, Canada (ex UK)

Looks like Ron gets the last laugh

K. Jackson, USA ex UK
Looks like Ron gets the last laugh. He has a UK national newspaper come up with his transport and no doubt a big lump of cash for his family in Rio. The UK taxpayer gets to foot his medical bill as well as keep and feed him for the rest of his life. England 0, Ronnie Biggs game, set and match!
K. Jackson, USA ex UK

What cause is served my slinging him in jail other than to satisfy a very formal sense of justice? Maybe let him sit there for a while till the hype blows over and then get on with locking up some folks who are currently a real menace to society.
Vincent, The Netherlands

Anyone who's had to permanently settle in another country because of circumstances rather than desire (in my own case because of American daughter and wife) will understand Biggs' desire to end his days back home. The need to be in the place where you spent your childhood often eclipses other considerations.
M. M. Zaman, Uk in US

Biggs has given in, but on his terms, and will get medical treatment and a fat cheque from a newspaper for his stories, some would say he has beaten the system once and for all.
Dave W., Thailand

The police should deal with serious crimes and not with crimes which happened 35 years ago. He has already been punished having lived his 35 years of his life far away from his country! Let him have his pint.
Sophia, Greece

I think the Foreign Office was right to allow him back into the country to allow him to serve his sentence for the crime that he committed. However, I think he should have to fund any medical treatment that he receives out of his own fund or not receive them. The British tax payer should not have to stand the cost just because he wants to come home.
James, England

The Foreign Office was totally wrong to allow Biggs back into the UK. It's obvious to anybody that he's come back to die - but to die at the expense of UK taxpayers. He chose to settle in Brazil, so why can't he die there? He is just latching onto the sentimentality of a few ex-cons and a newspaper after a scoop!
Stewart, UK

He should be treated fairly but according to the law

Barry Gorman, England
He is an escaped prisoner who's original crime had no mitigating circumstances whatsoever. He should be treated fairly but according to the law, as any other escaped prisoner should expect to be treated.
Barry Gorman, England

Ronnie Biggs wasn't a rapist, murderer or terrorist. He never hurt anyone or changed anyone's lifestyle. He was just a likeable scallywag that got caught, in fact the biggest crime committed here was the 30 year sentence handed out by the British government to a man who was clearly no danger to the public. He beat the system fair and square and got away with it regardless of what the Government do now anyway. If they want to save face, they should give him a light sentence in a minimum security open Prison with weekend leave to have that pint.
Steve, Thailand.

Since his escape, Biggs has spent his life sticking two fingers up at the British justice system, and the honest, hard-working British people. To allow him back to see out his remaining time is a betrayal of all law abiding citizens. He should have been left to rot in Brazil!
Bruce Holloway, Holland

By far the most serious crime committed by Ronnie Biggs was to buck the almighty system. Biggs was the 'tea boy' of the Great Train Robbery, not the mastermind or the thug who coshed the driver. But he did escape from Wandsworth Prison, and into folklore. Since his escape he has lived the life of a minor celebrity, and committed no criminal offence - unless you count his single, No One Is Innocent, recorded with the Sex Pistols. Today, he's still managing to screw the system, once again he is front page news, getting free medical treatment and obtaining a reported 100,000 for his Brazilian family. Even Jack Straw cannot justify throwing Biggs into prison to die, although he might try. Not because of Biggs' crimes, indeed there are infinitely more despicable people walking the streets, but purely because no one can be seen to win against the State.
Adam, UK

What the hell - leave him alone. Worse crimes have been committed in this country and people have got away with it or been released from prison after serving a fraction of their sentence. Biggs knows he has a short time to live - he wants to die where he was born.
Nauman Hamid, UK

Biggs was sentenced to 30 years and 30 years is what he should serve, he can have his pint of beer for his 100th birthday!!
David, Saudi Arabia

Let the rogue have his pint!

Dave B., Australia
When Biggs was imprisoned, was it not to keep him away from the public of England for the period of his sentence. He has done that and has caused nobody any harm since his escape. How much would he have cost the government if he hadn't escaped and fled to Brazil? Let the rogue have his pint!
Dave B., Australia

It's despicable, the number of comments here that focus on the 'cost to the British tax-payer'. Are you really trying to say that saving a few coppers in tax is better than seeing a notorious criminal be punished to the full extent of the law? Get your priorities right. Biggs should be re-tried, and made to pay any health expenses himself.
James Mills, UK

I can't imagine why anyone would want to return to such a nasty third-rate country such as England, but just being there would be sentence enough.
Robbie Pennington, Scotland

When I grow up I want to be famous. Should I develop a remarkable skill like Beckham? Or should I commit a crime and flee the country? Either way I'm going to be famous, how many kids are thinking this?
Marc Wickens, UK

I think the crux of the issue is why is he deciding to come back NOW? If it is because of access to medical services, then people should not be fooled of his sentimentality towards Britain. Moreover he chose to jump his sentence and stay in Brazil. The fact he wants to come back and waste the taxpayers' money, both through the NHS and the prison service is disgusting.
Pamela, UK

Put him in jail to finish his sentence.
Neil Jones, Switzerland

Obviously the UK has been able to achieve complete utopia. There seems to be nothing for people to concern themselves. Why else would this nonsensical non-issue cause so much controversy? Why are we even talking about this? Why am I writing this? This is stupid! Let the poor guy do whatever he wants to do.
Alexander, USA

When poor old Ronnie sees how much a pint of beer costs in Margate and how long the NHS waiting lists are, he will wish he were back in Brazil

Alan Pittman, Canada
When poor old Ronnie sees how much a pint of beer costs in Margate and how long the NHS waiting lists are, he will wish he were back in Brazil. He is a con and got away with it. He should be thankful and not try to sap the British soft spot. Throw him him into the slammer.
Alan Pittman, Canada

He's been in and out of the news for 35 years, he is just one of those icons from the 60s. I think he should be allowed back and live his last years on English soil. I think he has served his time.
Dave, England

He should be arrested at his point of entry and taken straight to prison. He should then be required to transfer ownership of anything of value that he currently owns to the state before being entitled to any medical treatment that he might need while he serves out the rest of his sentence. A pint in a Margate pub? He's been drinking in the high life in Brazil for far too long already! And The Sun should be banned from printing anything more than a simple news story about his return - 'glamorous' features about this criminal are not just inappropriate but downright offensive to anyone who believes in living by the rule of law.
David, UK

He jumped bail and has stuck two fingers up at British justice

BD, England
The facts are simple. He jumped jail and has stuck two fingers up at British justice. For the sake of justice, there is only one place he can go back to - jail.
BD, England

It seems kind of weird that the country which didn't give Pinochet over to the Spaniards on the account of bad health can't let an old man have a pint in peace.
Kim, Norway

Let the poor man return. If he honestly believes that there is anything remotely desirable about a drink in a Margate pub or indeed being in Margate itself for that matter, he is obviously mentally ill as well. He really does deserve our sympathy!
Nick Adams, UK

Biggs is now a sick man. He only wants to come back to Britain to take advantage of the free health care. Others have offered to buy him a pint, will they offer to pay for his health care? Refusing Biggs entry to this country and access to our free health care can be the punishment he has avoided for the past 35 years. Brazil have been happy to have him as a guest, they can now keep him.
John Kelly, England

Criminals are not celebrities and should not be treated as such

Sharon B, UK
Through the actions of Mr Biggs and his fellow criminals, a man was severely injured and never recovered, dying only a short while after the train robbery. Just because Mr Biggs is now elderly after escaping justice, people think that he should be forgiven, and some even think he should be given minor celebrity status. I think you should make your arguments to the family of the man that died. Justice is blind - age, race, creed nor sex are important when it comes to a criminal serving their time. No difference should be made here. Criminals are not celebrities and should not be treated as such.
Sharon B, UK

Let him in! Let him have his pint, THEN lock him up for a while and let him out. All he wants to do is die in England, so it seems, so why not let him? I don't see why we should have to pay for the re-trial and immediate health care that he would get if he went back to jail when others have to wait for ages. Just let him have his pint.
Tom O'D, UK

If Biggs had not escaped, he'd have been free to enjoy pints and curries since 1975. He should be put back in jail and given leave to appeal on health grounds.
Alex, Scotland

He gave up his right to a pint in Margate a long time ago

Darren Oldfield, UK
He robbed the Queen at the time of the train robbery and he's about to do it again - if he still had all 'his' money I don't think he'd be returning to the UK to help himself yet again to HM's government's resources. How would we all feel if an accomplice to the attempted murder of one of our parents was glorified for the deed and for the lifestyle bought with dirty money? How can this criminal - who has lived high on the hog - expect not to be put in the slammer forever? He gave up his right to a pint in Margate a long time ago.
Darren Oldfield, UK

Coming to the end of your life must be a terrible time, but he has certainly lived the high life in Brazil, so he should stay there.
Jacqui C , England

Biggs is a convicted criminal and let's not forget that innocent people were injured in that robbery. For 35 years, he has waived two fingers at Britain so why should we have him back now? He's put nothing into our society so why should we waste resources on looking after him when we already have plenty of deserving people to look after?
GS, England

Would it be possible to ignore this man? The thing that rankles most is the degree of celebrity he 'enjoys'. There are subjects far more worthy of consideration than this ill man who chose to leave the UK.
TDH, UK

The UK criminal justice system requires his return

John, UK
Has there been some change in government policy that I've missed? The UK authorities have always "demanded" his return from Brazil. Now that Biggs has agreed to meet these demands, it appears that half of us don't want him back. This is to miss the point entirely - the UK criminal justice system requires his return - there is no reason for a "should he or shouldn't he" debate. Do the people who don't want his return believe that we should drop extradition proceedings against all other criminals currently living overseas?
John, UK

Let him die in exile. At least he has lived to a decent age unlike the poor guy who worked on the Mail train, whose injuries led to a premature death. Since he has not served his sentence, the only fitting punishment is to refuse him entry to Britain. That'll teach him and any other would-be fugitives a lesson.
J Pringle, UK

Biggs is not in exile. He is in Brazil in order to escape our legal system. Let him return home. He may be seriously ill, but if he can survive the journey, he can survive the rest of his life in a British jail. He has taken advantage of his celebrity status to make money all these years and should now be made to face what he has done. It wasn't just money, we can forget about that, but his crime was violent and without remorse. Other nationalities seem to have nothing but contempt for the British wanting to see this man face his crime, but I'm sure it would be a different story if it was their country involved? He may not be Pinochet or the Unabomber, but if we let people like this ruin people's lives and get away with it, what point is there having a justice system?
James, Germany (British)

In prison he will be a much more expensive burden on the taxpayer than outside

Phil J, UK
Ronnie Biggs did not injure the train driver involved in the robbery who later died from leukaemia, not as a result of his injuries. Also if Biggs was an ex-dictator, accused of ordering the death and torture of hundreds of people, he would have been welcomed with open arms. Considering also the number of serious crimes still outstanding in this country and the lack of resources, one would have to wonder if locking up an old man, who will probably spend most of his sentence in a prison hospital, is the best use of resources. In prison he will actually be a much more expensive burden on the taxpayer than outside, even if on benefits.
Phil J, UK

Not only should he serve some time but he should be required to pay some of his medical expenses, unless he maintained his tax and national insurance payments to the UK treasury whilst he was out of the country.
Andre Cover, UK

How many prisoners is this country are allowed to raise a family whilst serving a sentence?


Liam Blizard, UK
All this talk about Ronnie Biggs having served a sentence of exile is idiotic. How many prisoners is this country are allowed to raise a family whilst serving a sentence? He could have returned to the UK whenever he wanted to, but chose to stay in Brazil. His exile is not in any way a comparable sentence to the one he would have served in Britain. The Government should refuse him entry, and not let him become a bigger celebrity than he already is; although no doubt the Sun would launch some sort of 'Let him come home, Tony' campaign and Blair being the opinion poll slave that he is would no doubt cave in.
Liam Blizard, UK

No-one has mentioned him renouncing his citizenship. Since he is a British citizen he cannot be refused entry, right?
Akintayo, Guyana

It is amazing that such rancour is displayed against a man who was clearly given too harsh a sentence. All you bitter Brits would be better served turning that spite inwards and taking a good long look at the state of Britain today when thugs and burglars thumb their noses at justice, and the juvenile killers of a young boy are primed for a return to society. Let Biggs back in, then leave the man well alone to enjoy what bit of his life remains. I'll buy him that pint.
Neal, Canada

I think he should be allowed to come home


Professor Harcharan Singh Ranu, Atlanta, USA
On January 29th 2001, I met Ronnie Biggs in person in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had already had three strokes and his health is failing day by day. I don't think he will live very long so under the circumstances he had already decided to give up and go home. In spite of the freedom he has enjoyed he is very homesick and can't get the treatment he needs in Rio. Having seen Ronnie in the state he is in, I think he should be allowed to come home. He has suffered enough mentally and he knows how painful the whole saga has been for him.
Professor Harcharan Singh Ranu, Atlanta, USA

If Biggs comes back and is arrested he will get medical treatment straight away. If he is pardoned, he will have to go on a waiting list like every one else who wants NHS treatment. But why do we want him anyway? He says that he has 'no regrets' so let him stay where he is
Chris Barrow, England

I think that the biggest crooks are corporate companies, who get away with murder. Ronnie should be given a pub in Margate named "The One That Got Away".
Paul Noble, UK

What a vindictive lot. So much for British fairness. Everyone feels he would be a burden. Well, so would he have been in jail. His going to Brazil saved Britain a packet. Let him return to jail and serve his sentence. He might get out in some years time and then get his pint.
G. Jones, France

You live by the sword, you must expect to die by it also

Derek, ex-pat, Brazil
The chances are he is finding the medical bills here to high and can no longer afford them. There is no NHS in Brazil. Let him stay here, you live by the sword, you must expect to die by it also.
Derek, ex-pat, Brazil

I can't help but wonder whether Ronnie Biggs now wants to avail himself of our National Health Service. He certainly does not deserve any benefit from the British Taxpayer, whether it be supporting him in prison or caring for him in hospital. He should be refused entry at all costs!
Wendy, England

Why shouldn't an Englishman be allowed home to die? The only reason he ran in the first was because of the length of his prison sentence, 30 years for stealing is a liberty and no man in his right mind would hang around to serve it. Let him have his pint!
Louis, England

He certainly should serve his sentence. Why should he be allowed to get away with it? It was a terrible crime and we seem to forget this very easily.
Wilma Kane, England

People who commit cold blooded murder, rape and sex offences on children are very rarely sentenced to half of Ronnie Biggs' sentence

Ian Adams, Scotland
I think he should be allowed in to the country to die. So he masterminded the robbery of a train. But if he had only stolen 5000.00 would he have been sentenced to 35 years? No I don't think so. People who commit cold blooded murder, rape and sex offences on children are very rarely sentenced to half of Ronnie Biggs' sentence, so I think the British justice system should admit defeat and let the man die in peace.
Ian Adams, Scotland

Yes he should come to serve the remainder of his sentence in the prison where he escaped from and treated just as any other "abscondee." The fact that he is ill should not come into it. He served only 15 months for a ghastly crime and has since lived the life of Riley
Jane Warner, UK

No! He did the crime and didn't do the time. Now, after living the high life he is out of money and wants to come back to a cosy retirement. His punishment should be exile!
Paul Cassidy, Netherlands

Sure he can come back to this country - there'll be a cell for him somewhere in which he can serve the remainder of his sentence. If he had only stolen the money in the robbery, it might be justifiable to let him go. However, the level of violence used during the robbery, which was to eventually cause the guard's death in 1970, means he should return to gaol.
Stuart, Scotland

He is just another common criminal

Adrian Humphreys, England
As with the Krays and the rest, he is just another common criminal and should not be built up to something he's not. Having worked hard for a living, I greatly resent these so-called media heroes.
Adrian Humphreys, Shropshire, England

Yes, he should be allowed to come home. Test him medically to see if he's fit to return to prison - by today's standards, prison (if he was re-sentenced) may be very comfortable. Also judging from the amount of time served by child molesters and the like, he should really be released immediately.
Jean Buckingham, London, England

Personally I don't think that he should be allowed back into Britain. He has thumbed his nose at the legal system for all these years, and now that it is convenient for him, due to ill health, he wants to return to England. He chose Brazil as his home, let him live there. Also, think of the train driver, he and his family never had the chance to enjoy his old age, why should England enable Ronnie Biggs to enjoy his?
Julie, Canada

Yes, fine as long as he is prepared to do the time. After all, Mr Biggs was an armed robber who was a part of a gang who assaulted the train driver - he should be jailed.
Jim Elphick, UK

My only concern is that we will now have to foot the bill for his imprisonment

Roy Chapman, UK
Ask yourself another question. Was it right of the US Government to prosecute the KKK member 30 years on? Is it right to pursue Nazi criminals 60 years on? Maybe if he was described as "the person who coshed the train driver and caused him to suffer for the rest of his life" rather than the great train robber it might put things into context. My only concern is that we will now have to foot the bill for his imprisonment and healthcare. Let's hope the Sun doesn't give him a hero's welcome.
Roy Chapman, UK

You might say Briggs has already done a life sentence in Brazil. He's never been a free man, survived one bungled kidnapping attempt to bring him back to the UK, and certainly isn't the hero he would like to be. Let him back into this country by all means, so we can remind him of the impact of his crimes.
Andy Millward, UK

I'm quite happy for Ronnie to come back and begin serving the rest of his sentence, As for a pint in the local, not a chance. We must remember that it wasn't just a robbery, and one poor chap was assaulted, leaving terrible injuries, during the theft.
Gary H, England

No! He has spent all his cash and now wants free NHS care. Let Brazil pay for him - they refused to extradite him. Why allow this old has-been (and not to forget, essentially a murderer by default) to live out his life quietly? I agree that our prison systems and sentences are a joke and that there are bigger crooks, but why compound the error?
Carl, UK

He should stay where he is. Unless he wants to repay all the money he stole.
Jane, UK

How about a bit of compassion on the poor bloke?

Nigel Burman, England
So many people are so quick to take a judgemental position on Ronnie Biggs. He's spent 35 years effectively in exile in Brazil. We use to exile people to Australia as the penalty for murder. How about a bit of compassion on the poor bloke; after all Napoleon was only exiled to Elba and was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands all over Europe (including his own countrymen).
Nigel Burman, England

Why on earth would we want back a geriatric con? Would we enjoy him savouring his beer in Margate so much that we're willing to pay for his trial and imprisonment? Stop this madness! There are needy people out there. We'll send Ronald Biggs a token can of British beer!
David Jones, London, UK

After three strokes he should know better than to want a pint of bitter in a smoky English pub. I would prefer sunny Brazil over gloomy England any day, especially when recovering from heart disease!
Aart, Belgium

We don't want him back here as a hero

Allen Evans, Wales
If Biggs' view is that he's "had a great life, and he doesn't regret anything", then he shows no remorse for the robbery or the death of Jack Mills. If that's the case, let him carry on "having a great life" in Rio - we don't want him back here as a hero, unless it's straight to Jail without passing 'Go'. Certainly no drinks in a Margate pub. He's a villain and an escaped prisoner.
Allan Evans, Wales

Good or bad, he is British, isn't he?
Jacob, England

Whatever the size of his crimes, Biggs is the worst kind of criminal - a celebrity crook! Let him stay where he is and perhaps the editor of The Sun should join him, for seeking to make money from the antisocial activities of Biggs and his kind.
Alan, England

This feting of thoroughly unpleasant criminals (like the craven worship of the Krays) makes me sick. These are the most undesirable people imaginable. If Biggs returns, he should be banged up at once. And I would have let Kray die in prison too.
Edward, UK

He should stay in Brazil. How much has he put into the taxpayers pot?
Adam , England

We should forgive him for his crime

Rachel, UK
I can't believe some of the knee jerk reactions here. All of us love this country. This is one British man who mistakenly left his homeland because he wanted to be free. He made a mistake and has paid for it by 35 years of exile. We should forgive him for his crime and let him die in peace where he would want to - England.
Rachel, UK

If Biggs had served his sentence he would be a free man now and able to buy a pint in any pub he liked. As it stands, does he deserve to be treated as a free man in the country he turned his back on? Hardly!
Jacky, UK

A lot has happened here in 35 years, and I'm sure there are many murderers released for more horrific crimes. There's no doubt he will become a celebrity and if he does come back I would suggest that every penny he gets from the media should go to families of murder victims, and any treatment for his ill health be paid for privately not by the British tax payer. I'm very suspicious of his return, has his money dried up, does he need more to send to his family in Brazil! - If he's on his last legs anyway, what's he got to lose!
Sha, UK

One way to make him repay his debt to society is leave him where he is

Martyn Pass, England
No. He has not served his sentence so why on earth give him what he wants now. One way to make him repay his debt to society is leave him where he is.
Martyn Pass, England

I would like to say yes he should be allowed to come back, arrested at the airport and put back in gaol to finish his original sentence. Unfortunately he would be molly-coddled by any number of do-gooders to the extent that prison will like a holiday camp and the tax payer would end up paying for medical care etc. I suppose therefore that he is best staying in his adopted Brazil that has shielded him so long.
Gerry Anstey, England

Refuse his passport and leave him in Brazil - they refused to extradite him when we wanted him returned, and I, being a UK taxpayer, do not wish to pay for him to languish in a British jail.
Alan Belk, UK

The man committed a crime far less heinous than many of today's criminals ever will didn't he? And to receive such condemnation from the public (answering this forum's question) that have elected so many governments guilty of overspending on the good taxpayers money that could have been better used to put him in a secure facility in the first place is somewhat ironical isn't it? Let him come home and let him live in peace.
Mark, UK expat - Tokyo

No! Stay away, we don't want you either. As Steve said, he has 28 years left to serve, however he has to be sentenced for escaping from prison too. We wanted him back all those years and we couldn't get him here, now he wants to come back for all those reasons stated, no chance. England should be a distant memory for Biggs and so it should remain. Maybe this could be England's justice against him, by refusing him admission. He made his bed, lie in it.
Adrian, UK

He gave up his rights to demand anything of England when he committed his crime and made it even worse by escaping his punishment and flaunting his freedom. Let him stay where he is, why should we be made to pay for sustaining his life? He should be refused entry, he chose where he wanted to be, let him live with it.
Lyndon, Surrey, UK

Having lived abroad for over 20 years, I can understand the desire to return home to the UK. We can't take away the years of freedom he's enjoyed, but denying him a passage back to the UK would be poetic justice. Just let the paperwork take a few years....
Graham, Denmark

In short - NO! He has enjoyed a much better lifestyle than most working Brits and now he wants to come back for free health treatment. A passport for a criminal, whatever next? The media (TV/ newspapers) would pay him vast sums of money for his story, he ends up still living the high life. Ask the widow of the train driver who died after the robbery what she thinks!!
Lyndsay, Britain

Lots of hysterical talk here about "cost to the British taxpayer". If the police had done their job in the 60's, Biggs would have spent up to 30 years in a British prison costing us far more that he did sitting in Brazil. By now he would be out and supported in his old age by the British taxpayer. I cannot agree more with Eileen's comment about Ernest Saunders. He is a much bigger crook than Biggs could ever hope to be.
NM, UK

The train driver who was attacked by Biggs and his gang (who eventually died from his injuries) was from the town where I live. I probably speak for most of my town when I say that, if he comes back, he should be thrown back in prison to serve the rest of his sentence.
Janet, UK

He is a criminal who should receive no special treatment whatsoever
Robert, Germany

Biggs would have been walking into Margate pubs for the last 35 years if he had decided not to rob his country of millions of pounds and club a young man to death. He may like to regard himself as some sort of modern-day highwayman, but he is a criminal who should receive no special treatment whatsoever.
Robert, Germany

Yeah - why not. We seem to let all the paedophiles out of prison after ten minutes, relocate them and give them new identities. So hey what the heck!!
Fraser, Essex, England

NO! Hasn't he cost the British taxpayer enough? With regards to Eileen's earlier reply. Would she empty all our prisons on the grounds that other criminals have got away with their crimes?
Robert, England

If Biggs comes back and is arrested he will get medical treatment straight away. If he is pardoned, he will have to go on a waiting list like every one else who wants NHS treatment. But why do we want him anyway? He says that he has 'no regrets' so let him stay where he is
Gill, UK


Let him be put in prison for the rest of his wretched life

Debbie, UK


By all means let him come back - and then let him be put in prison for the rest of his wretched life! It's fine saying that we shouldn't have him back, but what closure does that give to the family of the train driver who Biggs and his thieving friends effectively murdered? I'm sure it would help them to come to terms with his death knowing that Biggs was paying for his crime in prison rather than sunning himself in freedom abroad.
Debbie, UK

No! Let him spend Brazilian taxpayers' money on his poor health not ours.
Chris, England

It is hard to see what he thinks he will gain by coming home apart from free medical treatment, which may not be much use to him anyway as he serves the remaining 28 years of his sentence. However, the fact that he WANTS to come home is probably a good reason for refusing him, simply because he obviously sees going back to prison as less of a punishment than being forced to stay where he is.
Steve, UK



Anything to do with his current illness and the lack of a National Health Service in Brazil?


Neil, Scotland



Definitely not. He's been away for 30-odd years enjoying the money he stole; now he wants to "come home". Anything to do with his current illness and the lack of a National Health Service in Brazil ????? What do you think ?
Neil, Scotland

As a junior doctor, I do not like the idea of a free ride on the crippled NHS rollercoaster. Make him pay for his treatment.
James, UK

No, he should stay where he is. He only wants to come back now, as he knows he will not get put into jail because of his age and the fact that he is so ill.
Katie, England




Why not let Biggs come back without fear of prosecution?



Eileen, UK




Why not let Biggs come back without fear of prosecution? After all Ernest Saunders is walking around after his miracle recovery from Alzheimer's disease, and he stole a lot more than Ronnie Biggs ever did.
Eileen, UK

Short answer: no. If he does come back he should be banged up to serve his sentence. He made his choices long ago; he should at least have the courage to live with the consequences.
Graham Day, Scotland

NO! As a convicted criminal on the run he should be refused travel documents. How can you issue a passport to such a man? He should be refusefused entry to the UK.
Tim, England

To be supported in his old age by the British taxpayer, not a chance, stay and rot where you snubbed your nose at us.
Gerry, Scotland










Coming home

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