SIXTY YEARS on the Great Train Robbery continues to make news. And mystery still surrounds the big question: who was the mastermind?
One of the robbers, Bruce Reynolds, has just died at the age of 81. Police claim that he was the brains behind the daring heist — but is that the whole truth?
More than £2.5 million was stolen from a Royal Mail train en route from Glasgow to London on August 8, 1963.
Most of the gang were swiftly rounded up and jailed. Reynolds escaped to Mexico, but eventually he too ended behind bars. At least two of the robbers have been murdered in gangland vendettas.
One of the most notorious members of the gang was Ronnie Biggs, although he actually played a minor part in the crime.
Biggs made a spectacular escape from London’s Wandsworth jail in 1965 then fled to Australia and later Brazil.
Finally extradited to Britain, he is now a sick old man. But hardly repentant. In an interview in Rio de Janeiro, he told reporter David Baird: “Things went wrong because all the planning went into the details of the actual job and nothing into what we should do afterwards.”
Some of the 15-strong gang were never captured and to this day their identities have not emerged. So who was the mastermind?
All Biggs would say was: “If I had had anything to do with the planning, it would have been different. We should have had £5,000 waiting overseas and false passports ready so we could get away.”
And there’s a further mystery. Two attempts were made to kidnap Biggs while he was in Rio. The second time he was forcibly taken to Barbados, but a local court refused to order his extradition to England. Instead, he was released and flew back to Rio.
“The kidnappers tried to tell me they were doing it for the money. But I’ve no doubt they were British agents,” claimed Biggs.
The British authorities have never refuted that claim.