Page last updated at 18:35 GMT, Tuesday, 12 July 2005 19:35 UK

Biggs lawyer confident of release

Ronnie Biggs pictured several years ago
Biggs spent 36 years as a fugitive

Ronnie Biggs' lawyer remains confident the Great Train Robber will be released on compassionate grounds, despite apparent opposition from jail bosses.

Giovanni Di Stefano said Biggs, 75, who has 24-hour nursing care in prison, was too ill to re-offend if released.

He said Belmarsh jail governor Geoffrey Hughes was wrong to say Biggs had profited from his notoriety and would do so again if released.

Biggs was jailed for his part in the 1963 heist.

He was sentenced to 30 years, but fled Britain after escaping from Wandsworth prison in a furniture van after serving just 15 months in jail

He fulfils the criteria for compassionate release. This man does not belong in jail
Giovanni Di Stefano

Biggs surrendered himself in 2001 after 36 years on the run in Spain, Australia, and then Brazil. He has suffered a series of minor heart attacks and strokes.

The Home Office has confirmed it has received an application for early release on compassionate grounds of a prisoner at Belmarsh high-security prison in south-east London.

A spokesman said they would also have received the governor's assessment of a prisoner, as to whether he was suitable for early release under the scheme.

But Mr Di Stefano says the governor of Belmarsh had suggested Biggs had "profited financially as a direct result of his notoriety and offending" while on the run and this was likely to start again if he was released.

Chronic illness

In his response, Mr Di Stefano says this is wrong, as Biggs was denied permission to work.

And he points out medical officers say Biggs' condition is "chronic" and the risk of re-offending is small.

Mr Di Stefano told BBC News: "The governor is entitled to his opinion - but it doesn't matter a hoot.

"There are many people who say Biggs shouldn't be released, but it's not their decision, it's the decision of the secretary of state.

"This man is ill, he can't walk, he can't talk he has a tube to eat, he's in a wheelchair. His care costs £188,000 per annum - that is the great robbery in my opinion.

"He will be released, the secretary of state will release him. He fulfils the criteria for compassionate release. This man does not belong in jail."

Profile: Ronnie Biggs
06 Aug 09 |  UK
Train robber's son 'to get passport'
09 Jul 02 |  England
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10 Jul 02 |  England
Biggs' son fights to stay in UK
06 Mar 02 |  England


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