Train robber Ronnie Biggs could be freed in July

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs could be freed from Norwich prison as early as July, his family claimed yesterday.The 79-year-old is being held in the Knox Road jail's elderly lifers unit and has been subject to a number of health scares.

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs could be freed from Norwich prison as early as July, his family claimed yesterday.

The 79-year-old is being held in the Knox Road jail's elderly lifers unit and has been subject to a number of health scares. Family and friends have campaigned for his release on compassionate grounds for several years.

Biggs requires 24-hour care after experiencing two heart attacks and suffering from MRSA. He has skin cancer, cataracts, cannot speak and must be fed through a tube. Most recently he was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital suffering from pneumonia.

The Ministry of Justice says it has received no application for his early release. However, he is due a parole hearing in July at which he could be set free.


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Yesterday, his lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano issued a statement saying reports prepared for this hearing recommend he should be released.

In a message to the family, he said: 'I am pleased to confirm that I have received the parole dossier of Ronnie Biggs with a parole release date of July 3, 2009, and licence expiry of July 2, 2019. I hope we can find him suitable nursing care.'

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However, it could prove to be the latest false start after his family last year claimed he would be released by Valentine's Day 2009. The EDP understands ministers are reluctant to be seen to give into public pressure following the high-profile campaign.

But Mike Gray, a close friend of Biggs, said: 'I have always said that Ronnie Biggs was being slowly crucified on the Home Office Cross, and today we have been officially informed that Ronnie will be paroled on July 3 this year.'

Biggs was jailed for 30 years for his part in the 1963 Great Train Robbery in which �2.6m was stolen. He escaped from Wandsworth jail in 1965 by scaling a rope ladder. He spent the following 30 years on the run, first fleeing to Paris where he adopted a new identity and then moving to Australia and Brazil. He voluntarily returned to the UK in 2001 and has been imprisoned ever since.

He is just one of a string of notorious criminals to be held at Norwich prison. Gangster Reggie Kray and Nazi war criminal Anthony Sawoniuk were both held in the lifers unit before their deaths.

On Tuesday, the EDP revealed that serial killer Donald Neilson, dubbed the Black Panther, is to be transferred to Norwich as he enters the final stages of terminal illness motor neurone disease.

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