Nostalgia: The year the law caught up with Ronnie Briggs... only to see him slip through their fingers

Have your say

It might not be the most auspicious of anniversaries but February 1974 - 44 years ago this year - saw a significant step forward in the hunt for one of the UK’s most notorious fugitives.

Ronald Biggs, the Great Train Robber, was arrested in Rio de Janeiro after eight years on the run and there was talk he could be back in the country as early as February 5.

British Consul Henry Neill said: “Biggs signed a statement in front of me indicating his desire to return to the United Kingdom to face any charge which might be brought.”

Biggs was part of the gang which escaped with £2.6m from the Glasgow to London mail train in 1963. The robbery left train driver Jack Mills with severe brain damage after he was hit over the head. He died in February 1970. Biggs escaped from Wandsworth Prison in 1965 , where he served only 15 months of a 30-year sentence.

He squandered his take - £147,000 - of the infamous robbery, spending it all within three years.

The story appeared on the front page of the Yorkshire Evening Post in February 1974.

The 44-year-old was tracked down by Jack Slipper, Scotland Yard’s iconic flying squad detective, who allegedly greeted him with the words: “Hello Ronnie, long time no see”. Slipper died in 2005 aged 81.

Biggs managed to thwart attempts to bring him back to the UK, because he had a son by his Brazilian girlfriend.

He returned in 2001, was immediately arrested and sent to prison, being released on compassionate grounds in 2009, dying aged 84 in 2013.


Yorkshire nostalgia: The day Margaret Thatcher went 1,000ft down a Yorkshire mine in a ‘five ton bucket’