Share

Clear

Wed

14°C | 4°C

Clear spells

Thu

18°C | 5°C

Clear spells

Fri

12°C | 4°C

Home   Medway   News   Article

Rainham author Mike Gray speaks of sadness at death of friend the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs after his death at 84

18 December 2013
by Nicola Jordan

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, pictured in 2001. AP PhotoAlastair Grant

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, pictured in 2001. AP Photo/Alastair Grant

A Rainham author has paid a heartfelt tribute to his friend Ronnie Biggs, who has died today aged 84.

Mike Gray, who has written four books on the notorious Great Train Robber, had kept in regular contact with him and last visited him at his care home in north London earlier this year.

The 56-year-old said: "Ronnie did not have a bad bone in his body. Even the copper who arrested him said his criminal CV was laughable.

"He only went along because he was friends with Bruce Reynolds, but nobody else had ever heard of him.

"He was by his own admission the tea boy who became the legend due to the world media.

"He always regretted the injury to the train driver. Only yesterday I sent him a Christmas card.

"This is a sad day for me and his family."

Mike's unusual relationship with Biggs started as a nine year-old boy standing outside Wandsworth Prison waiting for his father, who was a warder, to finish his shift.

He remembers seeing a red removal van alongside the prison's towering walls on that day in July 1965.

Only minutes before, Britain's most famous escapee had scaled those walls on a rope ladder, jumped onto the van's roof and made his getaway in a car to begin 36 years on the run.

After Britain's failed attempt to extradite Biggs from Brazil in 1974, Mike found out his secret address and wrote to him explaining their chance connection.

Mike Gray has written several books about his friend Ronnie Biggs

Mike Gray has written several books about his friend Ronnie Biggs

To his amazement, the fugitive responded triggering a friendship which lasted to Biggs' death in the early hours of this morning after years of ill health.

Mike's latest book The Ronnie Biggs Quiz Book has just been published.

It coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery in 1963 - a heist that netted the gang an unprecedented £2.6 million in cash - worth about £55million today - on the London to Glasgow mail train.

Biggs was jailed two years later - but escaped - before returning to the UK voluntarily in 2001.

What do you think? Was Ronnie Biggs a loveable rogue - or hardened criminal? Join the debate below.


Stories you might have missed 

Detective told 'rape victim' to phone charity 

Four held after machete raid on jeweller's

Man behind bars after raping girl of 12

Dole queues shorten again in Kent and Medway


 

Click here for more news from Medway.

Click here for more news from around the county.

Comments 
Sorry, comments are not enabled for this article.

Login or register to post commentsPost Comment

Forgotten Password?

Forgotten Username?

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments.
Please click here for our house rules.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules.. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.