Page last updated at 04:32 GMT, Saturday, 4 August 2007 05:32 UK

Biggs makes fresh bid for release

Ronnie Biggs
Biggs was transferred to Norwich Prison after his health deteriorated

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs has made a new plea to be freed from prison on compassionate grounds.

Biggs, 77, was transferred from high-security Belmarsh to Norwich Prison last month after strokes and heart attacks left him seriously ill.

Biggs was jailed for 30 years for his part in the infamous £2.6m 1963 heist but escaped and went on the run abroad.

The Home Office has rejected all previous requests that he should be freed to be with his family.

'Compassionate reasons'

Biggs' son Michael said: "He still cannot speak, hardly walk or read or write but the government still thinks fit to keep him in jail.

"Hopefully they will release him now."

Giovanni Di Stefano, from Biggs' legal team, has sent an e-mail to Justice Secretary Jack Straw and the Lord Chancellor.

He wrote of the prison transfer: "Our client has fully appreciated this move but we are instructed to state that the said transfer cannot for one moment compensate the need and urgency for our client to spend his remaining period of life with his family for compassionate reasons."

'Prerogative of pardon'

Biggs was part of a gang which held up a Glasgow-to-London night train in August 1963, escaping with a then record haul in cash.

He was jailed for 30 years but had only served 15 months when he escaped from Wandsworth Prison by scaling a rope ladder.

Biggs was on the run for 35 years after fleeing to Paris and Australia and then Brazil which has no extradition treaty with the UK.

He returned to Britain in 2001 to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Mr Di Stefano added: "The Minister of Justice will know that a number of British and foreign news media have all supported the call for Mr Biggs to be granted compassionate release.

"We can also confirm that we have now nearly 7,000 letters from individuals supporting a petition to HM The Queen for the prerogative of pardon to be issued."

Profile: Ronnie Biggs
06 Aug 09 |  UK
Britain's biggest robberies
22 Feb 06 |  UK
In pictures: Ronnie Biggs returns
07 May 01 |  UK News

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