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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK
Biggs' son appeals to Home Secretary
Ronnie Biggs
Ronnie Biggs's health has been declining for some time
The son of train robber Ronnie Biggs is marking his 27th birthday on Thursday with an appeal to the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, to reduce his father's sentence on compassionate grounds.

The health of Biggs, who has suffered two strokes and a minor heart attack, has deteriorated in recent weeks and his son Michael is urging Mr Blunkett to refer his case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which normally deals with miscarriages of justice.

The 72-year-old former fugitive is in the medical wing of Belmarsh top security prison in south-east London.

At a news conference on Thursday Michael Biggs will outline why he thinks the prison is an "unsuitable" place for his father, who has to be fed through a tube.

Michael Biggs
Michael Biggs: prison is 'unsuitable'
Michael will also spell out why he is asking for a compassionate review of his father's 30-year sentence.

Earlier this week Biggs was admitted to hospital for an emergency blood transfusion after he began haemorrhaging.

He has since been returned to prison.

Ill-health prompted him to return to the UK after living in exile in Brazil.

Health concerns

In June Biggs spent a week in hospital undergoing treatment for a suspected stroke.

At the time his son Michael expressed anger at the decision to move him back to prison, saying he was extremely concerned for his father's health.

Biggs is planning to appeal against his 28-year prison sentence.

Lawyers are expected to argue that Biggs' health has deteriorated significantly - his past strokes have left him partially paralysed and virtually unable to speak.

The home secretary can decide in special circumstances to release a prisoner early.

Biggs was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his part in the 1963 robbery, which saw 2.6m stolen from a London-to-Glasgow mail train.

Train driver Jack Mills, who was coshed over the head by one of the gang, never returned to work after the robbery and died a few years later.

Biggs escaped from jail in 1965 after serving just 15 months. He fled to Brazil, via Australia, and stayed in Rio de Janeiro until May when he was persuaded to return to the UK by The Sun newspaper.

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