Huffpost UK uk

The Great Train Robbery: What happened to the robbers?

Posted: Updated:

It was dubbed the "crime of the century" but 50 years on what happened to the great train robbers?

great train robbery

Bruce Reynolds

Gang-leader and mastermind Reynolds was nicknamed ''Napoleon'' and after the Great Train Robbery he fled to Mexico on a false passport and was joined by his wife, Angela, and son, Nick.

They later moved on to Canada but the cash from the robbery ran out and he came back to England.

Five years after the heist, in 1968, a broke Reynolds was captured in Torquay and sentenced to 25 years in jail.

He was released on parole in 1978 and moved, alone and penniless, into a tiny flat off London's Edgware Road.

In the 1980s he was jailed for three years for dealing amphetamines.

After his second release, Reynolds went on to work briefly as a consultant on a film about the robbery, Buster, and published the Autobiography of a Thief in 1995. His son Nick said his father had died in his sleep in the early hours of February 28 2013.

Ronnie Biggs

ronnie biggs

Ronald Arthur "Ronnie" Biggs played a minor role in the robbery, but his life as a fugitive after escaping from prison gained him notoriety. He was given a 30-year sentence in 1964, but he escaped after 15 months by fleeing over the walls of London's Wandsworth prison in April 1965.

After having plastic surgery, he lived as a fugitive for 36 years in first Australia then Brazil, where he fathered a son Michael.

His health deteriorated in 2001 and he returned to the UK voluntarily where he was sent back to prison.

He was finally freed in 2009 on "compassionate grounds" by then Justice Secretary Jack Straw who said he was not expected to recover.

He remains in a nursing home in north London.

Charlie Wilson

Wilson was the gang's ''treasurer'' who gave each of the robbers their cut of the haul.

He was captured quickly and during his trial at Aylesbury Crown Court in 1964 earned the nickname ''the silent man'' as he refused to say anything.

He was jailed for 30 years but escaped after just four months.

He was captured again in Canada after four years on the run and served 10 more years in jail.

He was the final train robber to emerge from prison in 1978.

Wilson moved to Marbella, Spain, where he was shot and killed by a hitman on a bicycle in 1990.

Roy James

A silversmith and racing driver, James dreamed of investing his share of the loot in new car technology.

He was nicknamed ''Weasel'' and was the chief getaway driver.

James left a tell-tale fingerprint at the gang's farm hideout after the heist and was caught following a chase over rooftops in London.

Jailed for 30 years, he served 12 and later sold silver from a market stall before moving to Spain.

James was jailed again for six years in 1993 after shooting his wife's father and hitting her with a pistol.

He died at the age of 62, soon after getting out of prison.

Ronald ''Buster'' Edwards

great train robbery

Phil Collins played Ronald ''Buster'' Edwards in hit 80's film Buster

An ex-boxer, club owner and small-time crook who fled to Mexico after the heist but gave himself up in 1966.

Edwards is widely believed to be the man who wielded the cosh used to hit train driver Jack Mills over the head.

Mills' family say he never recovered, and he died seven years later.

Edwards served nine years in jail and then became a familiar figure selling flowers outside Waterloo station in London.

He was the subject of the 1988 film Buster, in which he was played by Phil Collins.

Edwards was found hanged in a garage in 1994 at the age of 62. Two wreaths in the shape of trains accompanied his funeral cortege.

Brian Field

A crooked solicitor who the gang used for the conveyancing when they bought the farm hideout used after the heist.

Field was arrested and sentenced to 25 years, which was later reduced to five.

He died in a motorway crash in 1979.

Bill Boal

great train robbery

An engineer who was arrested with Roger Cordrey in possession of £141,000.

Reynolds said he had never heard of Boal. He claimed Boal was not involved in the robbery and was ''an innocent man''.

Boal was charged with receiving stolen goods and jailed for 24 years, which was reduced to 14 on appeal.

He died of cancer in jail in 1970.

Tommy Wisbey

A bookie and self-confessed ''heavy'' whose job in the heist was to frighten the train staff.

Wisbey was sentenced to 30 years and released in 1976.

He was jailed for another 10 years in 1989 for cocaine dealing and later ran a flower stall.

On release from prison he went to live in north London and suffered several strokes.

Bobby Welch

A nightclub owner who was sentenced to 30 years in jail and was released in 1976.

He was later left crippled after an operation on his leg went wrong.

After jail he became a car dealer and gambler in London. He attended Bruce Reynolds' funeral earlier this year.

Gordon Goody

A hairdresser who was jailed for 30 years and released in 1975.

Goody moved to Spain to run a bar.

James Hussey

A decorator known as ''Big Jim'' who was sentenced to 30 years and released in 1975.

Hussey later worked on a market stall and then opened a Soho restaurant.

He notched up a conviction for assault in 1981 and in 1989 was jailed for seven years for a drug smuggling conspiracy with fellow train robber Wisbey.

He died in November 2012, aged 79, from cancer.

Roger Cordrey

Part of the South Coast Raiders gang, Cordrey was a florist.

He was arrested in Bournemouth after having the bad luck to rent a lock-up from a policeman's widow.

He was jailed for 20 years, which was reduced to 14 on appeal.

When he was released in 1971 he went back to the flower business and moved to the West Country. He has now died.

Jimmy White

A former Paratrooper described as ''quartermaster'' for the robbery.

White was on the run for three years before being caught in Kent and sentenced to 18 years.

He was released in 1975 and went to live in Sussex. He has now died.

Leonard Field

A former merchant seaman, Field was sentenced to 25 years, which was later reduced to five.

He was released from jail in 1967 and went to live in north London. Believed to be dead.

John Wheater

A solicitor who was sentenced to three years for conspiring to pervert the course of justice. He was released in 1966 and went to live in Surrey. Believed to be dead.