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Sunday, August 8, 1999 Published at 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK


Great Train Robber turns 70

Ronnie Biggs got a 30-year sentence for part in the £2.6m heist

A rogues' gallery of infamous friends is helping Great Train robber Ronnie Biggs celebrate his 70th birthday in Rio de Janeiro.

Guests at Biggs's poolside barbeque include members of the eight-strong gang which robbed the Carlisle to London mail train on 8 August 1963.

Bruce Reynolds, 67, who masterminded the £2.6m heist but served 10 years for the crime, jetted in from Britain for the party.

[ image: 'Dodgy' Dave Courtney inspired Vinnie Jones's film hardman]
'Dodgy' Dave Courtney inspired Vinnie Jones's film hardman
He joined toasts to Biggs with celebrity gangster "Dodgy" Dave Courtney and former boxer and robber Roy Shaw.

Courtney is reported to have been the inspiration for the hardman played by Vinnie Jones in the film Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Shaw's autobiography, Pretty Boy, which tells the story of his life in the underworld, has been a bestseller since its publication in 1998.

Biggs, who suffered a stroke last year, has lived beyond the long arm of British law since a jail-break in 1965.

[ image: Biggs escaped from Wandsworth prison in 1965]
Biggs escaped from Wandsworth prison in 1965
He said: "It looks like it is going to rain, but I don't care about the weather.

"It is all taken care of. We have 20 kilos of sausages, 20 kilos of chicken and 15 kilos of rumpsteak.

"As a result of the stroke I am only supposed to have one glass of red wine a day.

"I might stretch it to two today."

More than 100 guests were set to attend the party, expected to be a relaxed affair.

Brazil: 'No' to extradition

Biggs was jailed for 30 years for his part in the robbery, but served just 15 months after escaping to Spain.

He later moved to Australia and then Brazil, where he has lived for the last 20 years.

In 1997 the Brazilian Supreme Court rejected a renewed request from Britain to extradite him.

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