Topic: Ronnie Biggs

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Ronnie Biggs (Ronald Arthur Biggs, born August 8, 1929) is a convicted criminal; an English prisoner who is known for escaping from prison after his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963 and for being on the run for many years. He lived in Brazil for 35 years, but voluntarily returned to England in 2001.

Biggs was born in Lambeth, England. In 1947 Biggs at age 18 joined the RAF but was dishonorably discharged in 1949 for desertion and served two years. In 1960 he married Charmian Brent, with whom he had three sons (one deceased). Biggs is most famous for the Great Train Robbery of 1963. Together with other gang members, he stole £2.6 million from a mail train. After being convicted and jailed, he escaped from HM Prison Wandsworth on 7 July 1965 by scaling the wall with a rope ladder. He fled to Paris, where he acquired new identity papers and underwent plastic surgery. In 1970, he quietly moved to Adelaide, South Australia. He worked in Set Construction at Channel 9 Melbourne until a reporter recognised him. He then fled to Blackburn North, in Melbourne, Australia, staying for some time before fleeing to Brazil in the same year. His wife and sons stayed behind in Australia.

In 1974, Daily Express reporter Colin MacKenzie received information suggesting that Biggs was in Rio de Janeiro, and a team consisting of MacKenzie, photographer Bill Lovelace and reporter Michael O'Flaherty confirmed this and broke the story. Scotland Yard detectives arrived soon afterwards, but Biggs could not be extradited because the United Kingdom did not benefit from reciprocity of extradition to Brazil, a condition for the Brazilian process of extradition. Additionally, Biggs' then girlfriend (Raimunda de Castro, a nightclub dancer and alleged prostitute) was pregnant; Brazilian law would not allow the parent of a Brazilian child to be expelled. As a result, Biggs was able to live openly in Brazil, completely untouchable by the British authorities. While his status as a felon prevented Biggs from working, there was nothing to stop him profiting from Scotland Yard's misfortune. As a result, "Ronnie Biggs" mugs, coffee cups and T-shirts suddenly started to appear in tourist traps throughout Rio.

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