UK

Ronnie Biggs: A life on the run

Ronnie Biggs spent decades as a fugitive, evading police and officials across the world.

He received concurrent 30- and 25-year prison sentences for his part in the 1963 Great Train Robbery, but escaped in 1965 and fled overseas.

Our map charts his flight from - and eventual return to - the UK.

INTERACTIVE
  • Escape from Wandsworth

    × Scene of Ronnie Biggs' escape in 1965

    In April 1964, Ronnie Biggs was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the Great Train Robbery eight months earlier. But 13 months later he escaped from Wandsworth prison by scaling a wall with a makeshift ladder, and jumping onto a parked removal van.

  • Paris

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    Biggs fled first by sea to Antwerp in Belgium, and then travelled to Paris where he underwent plastic surgery in an attempt to alter his appearance.

  • Australian years

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    Travelling on forged documents, Biggs then flew to Sydney on 29 December 1965. He was joined by his wife and sons, and the family settled in Adelaide. A year later they moved again to Melbourne.

  • Flight to Brazil

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    Tipped off that the police had discovered him, Biggs boarded a ship from Melbourne to Panama before flying on to Rio de Janeiro. In 1974 the Daily Express newspaper tracked him down, and British police began moves to bring him back to the UK. However as Biggs had fathered a child with a Brazilian woman, under Brazilian law he could not be extradited and he remained in Rio for the next 27 years.

  • Return to the UK

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    The UK and Brazil agreed an extradition treaty in 1997, but all legal moves to bring Biggs back failed. However in 2001, with his health failing, Biggs told the Sun newspaper that he would be willing to return. He arrived back by private jet on 7 May 2001, and was immediately arrested and returned to prison. Biggs was eventually released in 2009, two days before his 80th birthday, having served around a third of his original 30-year term.