One way ticket to Panama
One way ticket to Panama
The trial began on 20 January 1964 at Aylesbury courthouse before Justice Edmund Davies.
During proceedings Jack Mills, the train driver, took the stand. Still recovering from the effects of his head injury, he recounted the episode in detail, giving attention to the injuries he had sustained at the hands of the robbers.
Due to the fact that Biggs had previously been in prison, his presence in court was deemed as breaching impartiality and he was sent back to prison. John Daly craftily had his lawyer make a submission to the court that the Monopoly set, which belonged to him, could have had his fingerprints on it before it was taken to the farm. The jury agreed and Daly was acquitted.
On 23 March 1964, the jury retired for two days to consider their verdicts. Tom Wisbey, Roy James, Charlie Wilson, Bob Welch, Jim Hussey and Gordon Goody were all found guilty of robbery. Sentencing was delayed until after Biggs' retrial, which was set for 8 April 1964.
Finally sentencing was passed. All the men, including Biggs, each received between 24 and 30 years in prison.
Most of the gang were sent to Brixton prison. Biggs went to Wandsworth in south London. On 12 August 1964, while Biggs was thinking of escape, Charlie Wilson absconded from Winson Green prison in Birmingham, with the assistance of three strangers. After the escape, security surrounding Biggs and the others was increased.
On Thursday 8 July 1965 Biggs and fellow prisoner, Eric Flower, exploited the lax security around their exercise period and escaped over the perimeter wall when rope ladders were thrown over. The plan had been arranged for some time on the outside.
Biggs and Flower were hidden in various parts of the country for several months before being smuggled across the English Channel to Antwerp in Belgium. There Biggs underwent painful plastic surgery to hide his identity, as well as being given money, new passports and clothes.
Travelling to Australia under the alias Terrence Furminger, he was reunited with his family and Eric Flower. He spent several years hiding out in various places in the country.
In 1968 Bruce Reynolds, Charlie Wilson and Jimmy White were all arrested and each given long terms in jail. ‘Buster’ Edwards eventually gave himself up to the police. Biggs was the only member of the gang who remained free.
Biggs, realising the net was closing in, scraped some money together, borrowed a passport and booked a passage to Panama. Once there he took a flight to Rio de Janeiro via Caracas, Venezuela.
On 11 March 1970, Biggs landed in Rio as ‘Michael Haynes’ and he gradually settled into life in Rio. He still kept in constant touch with his wife and family and led a colourful eventful life, with many girlfriends. Whilst in exile he also received tragic news that his eldest son, Nicky, had been killed in a car accident.
In May 2001, after 31 years in Brazil, Biggs, aged 71, returned to England. He was a very ill man, having suffered several strokes, but wanted to return even if it meant being re-imprisoned for his crimes. If he was expecting pity on the part of the law, he was sadly mistaken when he was arrested and later imprisoned despite a media campaign by family and friends calling for the Government to offer clemency.
However, on 6 August 2009, with his health in decline, Biggs was released from prison on compassionate grounds.