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8.8.09

Dick Turpin riding on Black Bess, from a Victorian era toy theatre.UK's notorious "Great Train Robber,'' nearly 80 and close to death, was released from his prison sentence, but he's expected to stay
where he is — in a hospital bed.

Britain's justice secretary Jack Straw said he decided to release Ronnie Biggs on compassionate grounds after he fell seriously ill this week in his cell at Norwich Prison.

The prison officers watching Biggs at the Norwich and Norfolk Hospital will remain overnight, and leave tomorrow, once the paperwork for his release is complete, Straw said. Biggs' 80th birthday is on Saturday. His lawyer, Giovanni Di Stefano, said Biggs was being released to die.

The train drivers union Aslef was quick to criticize Straw's decision to free Biggs. In 1965 Briggs fled to Brazil, where he made a living from his notoriety, regaling journalists and tourists with stories of his exploits and even recording with punk band The Sex Pistols. His fortunes changed in the 1990s after a series of strokes left him penniless and in need of medical care.

In 2001, when he surrendered to police he was sent back to jail. In addition to the strokes, he has suffered a broken hip, and is being treated for pneumonia. He is bedridden and is fed through a tube.

His lawyers sought to have him released, arguing that his severe


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