Freedom

In April 1971, Roger Cordrey was the first of the main train robbery gang to be released from prison. On 6 January 1972, fireman David Whitby collapsed and died. He was aged just 34.

On 1 February 1974 Biggs, who was planning to return to Britain and give himself up, was betrayed by the Daily Express and arrested in Rio de Janeiro by Detective Chief Inspector Jack Slipper and Detective Inspector Peter Jones. They, however, did not get their man and returned to the UK empty handed.

In April 1975 Buster Edwards and Jimmy White were released from prison, and in August Roy James was the first of the “30 year” prisoners to be released. By October Edwards was back in prison for six months for shop lifting £65.76 worth of goods from Harrods.

November saw the release of Jim Hussey, followed by Gordon Goody in December, Tommy Wisbey in February 1976, and Bobby Welch in June, the same month that Roy James broke his leg in a car crash during a race at Silverstone.

The free gang members agreed to jointly write a book about the robbery with Piers Paul Read for publisher W.H.Allen. Read was not aware that much of the information supplied to him for The Train Robbers  by the robbers was pure fiction.

Bruce Reynolds was finally released from prison on 6 June 1978 after serving ten years, and on 18 December, Charlie Wilson was the last of the imprisoned robbers to be released.

In early 1979, Brian Field, the link to the “Ulsterman”, died in a car crash with his new wife, Sian. He had changed his name to Brian Charbren on release.

On 16 March 1981, Biggs was kidnapped in Rio de Janeiro and flown by a private plane from Rio to Belem, in the north of Brazil, where he was put on the yacht Nowcani II that sailed to the Caribbean. Biggs was landed in Barbados, where he was arrested. After a month the case against him was dismissed and Biggs was free to return to Rio.

In April 1984 diesel engine D326, the engine involved in the Great Train Robbery, was finally withdrawn from service and cut up for scrap to avoid souvenir hunters. In October Reynolds was sent back to prison for three years for handling amphetamine sulphate, but was released in March 1985.

On 15 September 1988, the world premiere of Buster was held at the Odeon Leicester Square. A year later, the BBC screened The Great Paper Chase, a play based on Anthony Delano’s book Slip-Up. In 1990 Jack Slipper was awarded £50,000 in damages for libel.

On 26 July 1989 Tommy Wisbey and Jimmy Hussey were convicted for trafficking cocaine. They were sentenced to 10 and 7 years respectively. On 24 April 1990, Charlie Wilson was found murdered at his house in Spain. He was buried in the UK on 10 May.

On 27 July 1990 an arrest warrant was issued for Biggs at Bow Street Magistrates Court. The same document would be used when he returned to the UK in 2001.

Lord Edmund Davies, the judge at the Great Train Robbery trial, died on 26 December 1992. In June 1993 Jack Slipper, now retired, visited Biggs in Rio for the Sunday Express. In March 1994 Roy James was sentenced to six year for attacking his ex-wife and shooting his father-in-law, and on 29 November Buster Edwards was found hanged.

Bruce Reynolds published his Autobiography of a Thief in April 1995. His son Nick flew to Rio in the August to do a cast of Biggs for his ‘Heroes & Villains’ and ‘Cons to Icons’ collections.

On 20 August 1997, Roy James died of a heart attack. Biggs suffered his first stroke in March 1998.

Bruce Reynolds and his son Nick joined Biggs in Rio on 8 August 1999 to celebrate Biggs’ 70th birthday and the 36th anniversary of the robbery. They returned to Rio again in 2001 to help Biggs return to the UK.

Biggs arrived back in the UK on 7 May 2001 after being on the run for a total 13,068 days. He was sent to the maximum-security prison of HMP Belmarsh with still 28 years of his sentence to serve.

On 24 August 2005, Jack Slipper died at the age of 81 after a long illness. On 28 November Detective Superintendent Malcolm Fewtrell died.

After being refused parole by the Justice Secretary, Biggs was finally released on compassionate grounds on 7 August 2009. It was one day before Biggs’ 80th birthday and the 46th anniversary of the train robbery. Biggs, the last of the prosecuted robbers to be released from prison, had served 3,875 days for his part in the Great Train Robbery out of his sentence of 10,957 days.

On 17 November 2011, Biggs published his autobiography, Odd Man Out: The Last Straw. The book is the definitive and accurate story of Biggs’ life and the part he played in the Great Train Robbery.

Thursday, 8 August 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery. It falls on the same day of the week as the actual robbery in 1963.