Thursday, August 11, 2005

Free Ronnie Biggs

Former great train robber Ronnie Biggs is apparently seriously ill in Belmarsh prison. Why is he still being kept in prison several years after he voluntarily returned to Britain? He is old and sick and obviously no threat to anyone. It seems he is being punished not just for the audacity of the original robbery in 1963 and subsequent escape from Wandsworth Prison but for making the authorities look stupid in all the years on the run in Australia and Brazil, for the crime of obviously enjoying himself including making ropey records with ex-Sex Pistols.

Biggs once saw a bit more of South London than the inside of the hospital wing of Belmarsh. After escaping from Wandsworth, he hid in Dulwich, Bermondsey and Camberwell before making his way to France. Legend has it too that the robbers celebrated their success with a drink in East Dulwich at The Cherry Tree pub (now called the New Hamlet Inn, opposite the train station).

Image is from Stencil Revolution

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Scott Wood said...

I say let the petty crim rot. If not for the robbery, it's associated manslaughter and Bigg's flight but for his piss-awful single with Steve Jones and Paul Cook while they pretended to still be the Sex Pistols.

Chuck 'em all in. No, hang on, round 'em up like cattle and shot 'em like dogs. And then throw away the key somewhere high. Or something

Anonymous said...

Granted, the pseudo-Sex Pistols records were terrible (blame Malcolm Maclaren). But I have to quash the manslaughter story. Jack Mills, the train driver, was injured not killed in the Great Train Robbery. In fact he told reporters just after the accident that one of the robbers had bandaged his head and made him a cup of tea, and that they had all behaved "like gentlemen". He died seven years later from leukaemia, and the coroner said that the blow could not have contributed to his illness.

Scott Wood said...

As I said below, my brain is still somewhere is the Baltic, it'll take me a while to get back to wherever I usually am. I’ll be back by September, I reckon.

Biggs is still a criminal and not a prisoner of conscience though. I suspect, perhaps, that the presumed glamour of old style crooks like Biggs, Mad Frankie Fraser and all the other scum, is what inspires people to want to spray things on walls like ‘free Ronnie Biggs’ while, in reality, there’s no glamour in what they do at all.

Scott Wood said...

As for falling for a tabloid myth, as the manslaughter thing must be, I suppose, I was only mocking someone t'other day for repeating the claim that immigrants steal and eat swans and there I go casting newspaper-myth around. Siigh.

Still, off to Exeter tonight for some monsters.

Anonymous said...

Know what you mean about the false glamour. I went past the Blind Beggar in Whitechapel at the weekend and they've got big pictures up of the Krays who murdered somebody in that very pub. However you've got to also disregard the negative glamour - the idea that criminals are 'evil scum' - and look at what's going on here, i.e an old man dying in prison for a crime commmitted before we were even born.

Scott Wood said...

I don't know, he committed a crime motivated, as far as I know, by his own greed which he knew he could go to prison for. He is then caught, sentenced, imprisoned and then escapes and lives the life in Brazil.

A few years of celebrity, sex and luxury later, he returns to the UK and is places back in prison to complete his sentence (with a bit extra for getting out while he was still young, fit and rich enough to enjoy it).

As far as I’m concerned, he got a bonus.

I don't think there's any time limit on crime, a murderer convicted at the age of 90 is still a murder and a thief is still a thief.