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The BBC's Margaret Gilmore reports
"Life on the run has ended for Ronnie Biggs"
 real 56k

Biggs' solicitor Jane Wearing
makes a statement outside the court
 real 56k

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy at the magistrates court
"He looked very distressed, very confused"
 real 56k

Malcolm Fewtrell, former head of Buckinghamshire CID
"I think he is being exploited"
 real 56k

Monday, 7 May, 2001, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Biggs sent back to jail
Bigg's plane lands
Biggs was arrested minutes after landing at RAF Northolt
Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs is on his way to London's high security Belmarsh Prison just hours after returning to the UK.

Biggs was arrested shortly after landing at RAF Northolt in a private jet chartered by a national newspaper.

By lunchtime a district judge at West London magistrates court decided he should be returned to prison, 35 years after escaping from Wandsworth prison after serving 15 months of a 30-year sentence.

Biggs appeared with a walking stick
He will not face any further charges for absconding.

His solicitor said he would be seeking an appeal against the remainder of his sentence at the Court of Appeal.

Biggs, 71, who has suffered three strokes, looked frail and could only respond to questions in grunts in court.

At one point, one of the legal team had to wipe Biggs' mouth with a handkerchief.

His legal team said the authorities knew his health was a concern and he would receive medical attention as soon as possible.

His solicitor said he thanked the UK authorities for the swift treatment of his passport application to allow him to return home.

Airport welcome

Police officers were waiting for the ailing convict as he arrived in a private jet from Brazil at RAF Northolt in Middlesex.

Biggs was arrested on board the aircraft by Detective Chief Superintendent John Coles, head of the Serious and Organised Crime Group.

Ronald Arthur Biggs I am now going to formally arrest you

DCS John Coles
Mr Coles had received an e-mail from Biggs' Rio de Janeiro home last week in which he asked for a passport and offered to give himself up at Heathrow Airport.

Biggs still has 28 years of his 30-year sentence to serve for his part in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, which saw 2.6m stolen from a London-to-Glasgow mail train.

But there will be pressure for the ailing criminal to be treated leniently, despite demands from shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe and others for him to be returned to prison.

Dramatic departure

Cloaked in controversy for most of his 30 years in Brazil, Biggs left Brazil in dramatic fashion on Sunday aboard a jet chartered by the Sun newspaper.

A van emblazoned with the Sun's logo was confronted by a massive media scrum at the Rio's Galeao Airport and forced to use a side entrance.

Police convoy
A police convoy met Biggs' plane
The UK-based media gathered for his arrival outside the perimeter fence of RAF Northolt, an airfield more frequently used by the Royal Family, politicians and celebrities.

Protesters backing Ann Widdecombe's call for Biggs to spend the rest of his life behind bars, were also among the crowd.

But before they could catch a glimpse of the "celebrity criminal", the aircraft had been met by a convoy of two police cars, two police vans, two ambulances, and a van with blacked out windows.

Northern Ireland secretary Dr John Reid said Biggs' return must be put in perspective.

"I quite understand the glamour and the hype about the arrival of Ronnie Biggs but let's remember this was a serious crime where there was a man who was very, very, badly injured," he said.

"He will be treated like anyone in that position, like any fugitive who has come back to face the law."

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