Mastermind behind UK's "Great Train Robbery" dies at 81

Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:44am EST
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By Clare Hutchison

LONDON (Reuters) - The mastermind behind Britain's "Great Train Robbery", a 1963 heist that turned its perpetrators into celebrities, has died aged 81, local media reported on Thursday.

Bruce Reynolds died in his sleep at his home in London after a period of ill health, reports from news media which included the BBC said, citing comments from Reynolds's son, Nick.

His death comes just months before the 50th anniversary of the "Great Train Robbery", that was at the time Britain's largest robbery.

In August 1963, Reynolds, along with an 11-member gang, tampered with railway track signals and stopped a Royal Mail night train travelling from Glasgow to London carrying letters parcels and large amounts of cash.

Reynolds and his men stormed the train and made off with 2.6 million pounds ($3.93 million), equivalent to about 40 million pounds in today's money.

Train driver Jack Mills was struck over the head during the robbery. He died seven years later and many people believed the injuries he sustained during the heist contributed to his death.

Most of the gang were caught and given prison sentences totaling more than 300 years but Reynolds evaded capture, fleeing Britain with his wife and son. He spent five years as a fugitive in places as far afield as Canada and Mexico.

On his return to Britain Reynolds was caught by police and sentenced 25 years in prison for the train heist, of which he served just 10.   Continued...

"Great Train" robber Ronald Biggs celebrates outside his home in Rio de Janeiro in this file photo from November 12, 1997 after the Supreme Court rejected a British request for his extradition.