Ronnie Biggs will leave Norfolk on release
PUBLISHED: 16:57 11 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:05 06 July 2010
Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs will leave Norfolk if he is released from Norwich prison by the parole board next month.
Details have emerged of an agreement between Barnet council and the London borough's primary care trust (PCT) to cover the cost of his healthcare should he be freed on July 3 when he has served his minimum sentence.
Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs will leave Norfolk if he is released from prison by the parole board next month.
Details have emerged of an agreement between Barnet council in London and the borough's primary care trust (PCT) to cover the cost of his healthcare should he be freed on July 3 when he has served his minimum sentence.
He has served 10 years of the 30-year jail term imposed in 1964 for his part in the £2.5m - equivalent to £40m today - robbery of the Glasgow to London mail train.
Earlier this year, the probation officer overseeing Biggs recom-mended his early release on parole licence as long as he had a care package to manage his health needs.
Until now, one of the biggest obstacles to his move out of prison was a wrangle over which council and health authority would pick up the bill for his care and there was speculation that the frail 79-year-old, who is in the hospital wing of Norwich Prison, might live out his days at a Norfolk nursing home.
But Barnet council and PCT - which serve the area in which his son Michael lives - have agreed to cover the cost, so Biggs would have his family close by in his final days.
Biggs, who has to be fed through a tube and can barely talk or walk after a series of strokes, is said to be ecstatic that he is poised to return to London, the city of his birth.
The precise cost of the 24-hour care is unknown, but is likely to run to tens of thousands of pounds per year.
A Parole Board panel will hear his application for release within the next two weeks. The panel will send its recommendation to Jack Straw, the justice secretary, who will make the final decision.
His probation officer's report states that Biggs has in the past sought to play on his celebrity status, which could lead to an issue of risk management on his release.
Giovanni di Stefano, who represents Biggs, said: "He's ecstatic. It's a brand new home that he will be going to and his son will be only a half a mile away and will be able to visit every day."
The move to free Biggs is likely to prove controversial, given his role in one of the most notorious robberies of the 20th century and his life in Brazil during 36 years on the run.
Biggs's son Michael, 34, said: "Dad has served his time and it will be cheaper to have him in a nursing home. It makes sense to move him out of prison and make space in our overcrowded jails."
Biggs served only 15 months of his sentence before escaping by scaling a 30ft wall. He went to France, Australia and Brazil, where he lived openly for three decades, safe from extradition because he had fathered a child by a Brazilian woman.
He returned to Britain in 2001, impoverished and ill. His son was given British citizenship after his parents married in Belmarsh jail, southeast London, in 2002.
He transferred to Norwich in 2007. The prison's governor last night declined to comment.