Is Ronnie Biggs being treated harshly?

July 2, 2009

To the surprise of many, not least the newspapers and TV channels that were telling us right up until Wednesday afternoon that his release was imminent, Ronnie Biggs has been refused parole.

Reason — a bad attitude

The 79-year-old Great Train Robber may be physically frail but is clearly unwilling to show the required amount of remorse that would get him out of jail and could now spend the rest of his days behind bars.

All the other 11 members of the gang that held up the Glasgow to London night mail, coshed the driver and made off with 2.6 million pounds served just a third of their sentences. Biggs wasn’t even on the train on that notorious night in 1963. He was down on the embankment.

His son Michael says Justice Secretary Jack Straw’s decision is devastating, his lawyer calls the decision to keep Biggs in jail “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Yet the original crime was audacious and huge. Biggs’ cheeky hop over the walls of Wandsworth prison and his subsequent two-fingers to justice from the safety of Brazil clearly rankled with the British establishment. If he had been released, he would probably have become a magnet for old lags all over the country, as far as his physical condition allowed.

Do you think he should have been allowed parole?


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Yes! He should have been allowed parole. I don’t think it is possible to determine whether or not someone is remorseful for something when they are ill and frail as Biggs is apparently. It seems unfair to keep him inside.

Posted by June | Report as abusive

Yes I think the decision to refuse parole is indeed harsh and cruel. This country has given criminals with more heinous crimes earlier release. It is this seemingly ‘selective judicial system’ I simply detest and abhor! For goodness sake the man is ill!

Posted by Annie | Report as abusive

He has had his parole when he escaped from prison and went on the run to France, Australia and then Brasil.

If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

He deserves all he gets

Posted by John Jones | Report as abusive

He’s not being treated harshly in the sense that he did the crime so should serve the time. If the same approach was taken with all thugs the crime rate would halve for the simple reason that nobody can mug either an old lady or a train driver while they’re behind bars.

The real scandal here is the arbitray nature of “justice” under the present government. Biggs helped to rob a train and escaped from prison, but will now die there. The three savages who raped a girl with the mental age of eight and doused her in caustic soda while filming their
“fun” on mobile phones got between six and nine years so will be out in between three and four and half years to do it again to some other girl.

So much for justice – Labour style.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

I don’t think he should be released. If he’d served his time and not escaped he might have been released years ago, but as it is, he hasn’t been in prison for very long. I also agree with other comments here about the parole system. It is a mess and should be abolished, not least because it is hugely misleading to the general public as to the real severity of sentences. You should stay in prison for the entire length of your sentence, then we’d all know the true position. The incentive to behave well in prison should be that if you misbehave, your sentence will be increased, and not the other way round.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

if Ronny Biggs had done his jail when he was sentenced he would have been out by now..He only has himself to blame for escaping when he did..

Posted by gerry graham | Report as abusive

If the death penalty had not been removed by do gooders, we would not have the amount of violent crime, massive cost of keeping people unfit for society, or this problem!

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Biggs is a frail old man, and compared with some of the violent sadistic crimes around today his punishmsnt reflected not so much the crime committed,as the government’s disapproval and shock. Thirty years for a robbery with violence,(by another member of the gang)seems too much. For his crime I feel he has served sufficient,

Posted by Michael Catto | Report as abusive

Totally outrageous he was the lookout not some criminal master mind, Its hard to show a justified level of remorse after several strokes and countless years of prison life.
I personally am disgusted by this absurd abuse of power.

P.s. God save ronald biggs.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

fair enough if the same rules are applied to everyone but why keep an old sick man inside and the likes of jack tweed gets out after two assaults and MPs dont even get locked up for nicking a lot more i think its just jack straw posturing

Posted by billy mac | Report as abusive

Yes – its completely disproportionate to the treatment of other criminals and lacks compassion. My view of Jack Straw has diminished as a result

Posted by Tracy | Report as abusive

How can any human being allow another person to die like that. In the end we all need to rememebr what goes around comes around?

Posted by july august | Report as abusive

His son says that Biggs should be allowed to die with dignity. Oh yes, that’s right, just like the way him and his gang left the train driver to die with some dignity.

He’s been living it up in Brazil until the money ran out and should be left to rot in hospital.

Posted by Fenton | Report as abusive

People who murder get a lot less sentences than ronnie biggs. He is no danger now to the public, its not as if he’s going to live the high life. Why waste public money keeping someone in prison thats basically dying anyway. For once I agree with Jack Straw

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive