Yes Mi Irieites,
Today, August 8th, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of The Great Train Robbery, featuring Ronald Arthur Biggs, who was part of a gang of 15 members that carried out this notorious act. What a birthday treat. The event took place on Biggs’ 34th birthday.
But it wasn’t long before all of the train robbers, except for four, were caught. Ronald, found guilty, was sentenced to a whopping 30 years in prison. What a difference today, people are serving a far less time nowadays for committing the most horrendous of crimes.
However, a bit of luck came Ron’s way when he managed to escape jumping through the top of a removal van while it was “temporarily stationed” outside Wandsworth prison, July 1965. This led to him becoming infamous: Ron went on to became a fugitive for 36 years. Thanks to the early Hollywood craze of plastic surgery as well as falsified passports, and the generosity of the Brazillian government, he was able to evade the British government for quite a long time.
Towards the end of his fugitive years, around 1997, we, Steel Pulse, had bumped into Ronald Biggs on a few occasions in Rio de Janeiro. At that time he was delighted to meet some of his “home grown” boys, but at the same time showing expressions of being in a bit of a dilemma. It was at a moment in his life when his Brazilian son, Mike, was becoming of age (21). This meant that Biggs would no longer, under Brazilian rules, be qualified as legal guardian to his son. This also meant that the UK had the powers to extradite him to complete his 30 year sentence.
The following year we had shows in Brazil and bumped into Biggs again who was celebrating telling us that the Brazillian government “dissed” the UK’s return order and gave him the right to live as a free man in Brazil. I must admit, everyone around was celebrating with him…. the Pulse, too. Mike had a smile as wide a Cheshire cat.
What we also knew was that Ron was homesick and had longed to return to the UK. There have been other times too, for example when he had learnt of his eldest son’s death in a car accident, in Australia. Ron was so distraught that he wanted to turn himself in. Ultimately, he returned a sick man, with his Brazilian son, Mike, back to England. His sentence was continued but only for a third of the time specified. After a series of pleas from both him and his son due to his ill heath, Ron was released on “compassionate grounds.”
Happy Birthday, Ron…. 84 years old today! We wish we were there to celebrate with you. And Mike, if you manage to see this, please give us a link. It would be good to catch up on old times!!
Ficar Forte, Meu Irmao… Vai Com Deus.
Stay Strong, My Brother… Go with Jah.