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Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs dies

One of Britain's most notorious criminals, Ronnie Biggs, has died in London aged 84. He was famous not only for his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, but also for his prison escape and years spent on the run.

Biggs died in a care home in north London after having suffered a series of strokes and other illnesses in recent years.

He first came to dubious fame 50 years ago as a member of a gang that stopped a Royal Mail night train and stole 2.6 million pounds (3.1 million euros, $4.2 million), which would be roughly equivalent to about 40 million pounds today.

The train driver, Jack Mills, was struck over the head during the robbery. His death seven years later is attributed by some to the injuries he sustained in the attack.

Biggs was caught and sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the theft, but escaped and spent 36 years on the run, mostly in Brazil, where he led a playboy existence.

During this time, among other things, he recorded vocals for several songs, including ones by the German punk band Die Toten Hosen and "No One is Innocent" with the British punk band the Sex Pistols.

He returned to Britain in 2001, aged 71, and was arrested and reimprisoned on arrival. In 2009 he was released on health grounds, despite reportedly being unrepentant.

He was also the author of an autobiography, "Odd Man Out: The Last Straw."

Biggs was last seen in public in March at the London funeral of fellow Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds.

tj/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)