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Fugitive Biggs sent to jail

Biggs leaves a police station on his way to the court
Biggs leaves a police station on his way to the court  

LONDON, England -- One of Britain's most notorious criminals, the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, has been sent back to jail after more than 35 years on the run.

Police arrested the frail 71-year-old on Monday morning when he flew to London from Brazil with his son on a private jet chartered by a tabloid newspaper.

Biggs, partly paralysed and in failing health after at least two strokes, had said he wanted to return to his native Britain to have a beer in a pub before he died.

CNN's Fionnuala Sweeny explains how Biggs stayed 35 years on the run
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But police have made it clear that Biggs, who was part of a gang that robbed a mail train of 2.6 million ($3.74 million) in 1963, will be treated like any other criminal and will probably end his days in a prison hospital. The sum stolen in the robbery would be worth around $50 million today.

He appeared briefly in a west London courtroom on Monday afternoon where he was sent back to jail to serve his time at Belmarsh Prison in southeast London.

Biggs, who was arrested at an air force base on Monday under a warrant for being unlawfully at large, escaped from a London prison in 1965 when just 15 months into a 30-year sentence.

The fugitive, who long ago spent his £147,000 share of the 1963 mail train robbery haul, hopes to receive vital medical treatment that he could not afford in Brazil.

The jet that flew Biggs the 6,000 miles back to justice was chartered by British tabloid newspaper The Sun, which on Monday carried the front-page headline Got Him.

He left Rio de Janeiro, his home for most of his time on the run, on Sunday night amid chaotic scenes as reporters and photographers sought to get a glimpse of one of the world's most famous fugitives.

Biggs was part of the 15-member gang that held up a Glasgow-London mail train in August 1963, robbing an amount worth about $50 million today.

The robbery was dubbed the Crime of the Century and became famous in British folklore.

Biggs is wheeled to the plane that returned him to custody
Biggs is wheeled to the plane that returned him to custody  

He was tried five months later, convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison, but he escaped 15 months later, fleeing first to Australia and then Brazil.

Biggs fathered a son in Brazil, halting British attempts to extradite him. Brazilian law forbids deportation of parents.

But Biggs, partially paralysed and unable to speak following the strokes, recently expressed a desire to return home.

In an e-mail sent to London's police force, Scotland Yard, last week, Biggs wrote, "I would like to give myself up to you. What I need is passport documentation to travel back to Britain.

"I am prepared to be arrested at the gate when I arrive ... and submit myself to the due process of the law."

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Scotland Yard statement on Biggs arrest
The Sun
Ronnie Biggs

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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