Page last updated at 20:49 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 21:49 UK

Straw refuses Ronnie Biggs parole

Ronnie Biggs

The Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs has been refused parole by Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

Mr Straw rejected a recommendation by the Parole Board which backed the release of Biggs, 79.

Mr Straw said Biggs was "wholly unrepentant" about his actions and had "outrageously courted the media".

Biggs' son Michael called for Mr Straw to review the decision. "This is not justice," he said. He said his father was in a "life-threatening" condition.

Biggs is in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after breaking his hip in a fall.

He was taken from Norwich Prison to hospital after a fall at the weekend.

Had he complied with his sentence, he would have been a free man many years ago
Justice Secretary Jack Straw

The Parole Board report said the risk Biggs posed was "manageable under the proposed risk management plan and consequently parole is recommended".

But the panel added that "in terms of his attitudes and risk areas" there was little evidence, apart from his increased age, to suggest he would not return to his old criminal lifestyle.

Giving his reasons for the refusal of parole, Mr Straw said it was "unacceptable" that Biggs had chosen not to obey the law and tried to avoid the consequences of his decision.

Mr Straw said Biggs would have been a free man "many years ago" if he had complied with the sentence given to him.

He said: "I have informed Mr Ronald Biggs of my decision regarding his parole.

"Mr Biggs chose to serve only one year of a 30-year sentence before he took the personal decision to commit another offence and escape from prison, avoiding capture by travelling abroad for 35 years whilst outrageously courting the media.

"Had he complied with his sentence, he would have been a free man many years ago.

"I am refusing the Parole Board's recommendation for parole. Biggs chose not to obey the law and respect the punishments given to him - the legal system in this country deserves more respect than this.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Let him go for his pint and live his last months and years as a free man
Julian, Middlewich

"It was Mr Biggs's own choice to offend and he now appears to want to avoid the consequences of his decision. I do not think this is acceptable.

"Mr Biggs is wholly unrepentant and the Parole Board found his propensity to breach trust a very significant factor. He has not undertaken risk-related work and does not regret his offending."

Biggs' son Michael said his father presented "no threat to society whatsoever", adding "he cannot walk, he cannot talk, he cannot eat and drink".

"This flies in the face of the parole board recommendation. This is not justice," he said.

Michael Biggs called Mr Straw's decision "beyond belief" and "vindictive".

"My father has been made to serve a long sentence because of his surname."

He said he would be visiting his father in hospital on Thursday morning.

'Dying months'

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "It is difficult to see what can be gained, other than tough headlines, by overturning a carefully considered Parole Board decision to grant release and instead condemning a sick, elderly man to spend what seem from reports to be his dying months in prison."

Biggs was a member of a 15-strong gang which attacked a mail train in Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, on 8 August 1963.

The gang made off with £2.6m in used banknotes in the biggest ever raid on a British train.

After being given a 30-year sentence, Biggs escaped from Wandsworth Prison, south London, in a furniture van after spending 15 months in jail.

He was on the run for more than 30 years, living in Spain, Australia and Brazil, before returning to the UK voluntarily in 2001.

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Michael Biggs: "My father's being made to serve a long sentence because of his surname"



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SEE ALSO
Profile: Ronnie Biggs
06 Aug 09 |  UK
Timeline: Ronnie Biggs
06 Aug 09 |  UK
Parole board backs Biggs release
25 Jun 09 |  Norfolk
Robber Biggs in prison parole bid
18 Apr 09 |  Norfolk
Train robber Biggs hospitalised
13 Feb 09 |  Norfolk

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