Buster Edwards `too drunk' to have committed suicide

An open verdict was recorded yesterday on the death of Ronald "Buster" Edwards, the Great Train Robber turned florist, who was found hanged in a lock-up garage.

Southwark Coroner's Court was told that Mr Edwards - whose colourful life and role in the robbery was made into the 1988 film Buster - suffered from acute depression and had a serious drink problem. He had made two previous suicide attempts.

Sir Montague Levine, the coroner, said that Mr Edwards, 62, who spent three years on the run in Europe and Mexico before serving nine years for his part in the £2m raid on the Euston-to-Glasgow train in 1963, drank a bottle of vodka a day.

Medical reports showed his family had "been at the end of their tether" trying to stop him drinking. But a report from one specialist noted he doubted that Mr Edwards really wanted to stop.

When Mr Edwards's brother, Terence, discovered him hanging from a metal girder in the garage near his flower stall at Waterloo station, he had enough alcohol in his body to kill someone unused to drink, the court was told. A small bottle of vodka - one-third full - was found discarded by his body. The pathologist, Dr Vesna Djurovic, said he had died just before he was discovered.

Sir Montague said the "enormous quantity of alcohol" in his blood - more than four times the drink-drive limit - cast doubt on his ability to form the intent to take his own life. But he added he was certain no other person was involved.

Mr Edwards's wife, June, was too distressed to attend the hearing but his daughter, Nicola, was present. She left the room during the pathologist's evidence. Sir Montague said the family could take comfort from the knowledge that Mr Edwards must have lost consciousness quickly and suffered no pain.

The hearing was a quieter affair than the elaborate send-off for Mr Edwards in December which was attended by a number of superannuated career criminals, including two of the nine surviving train robbers and Charlie Kray, elder brother of the Kray twins.

But there was still a touch of style. The family was collected from court by a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce with heavily tinted windows.

A family friend, who was allowed to ask questions of witnesses, provided the only excitement when he was chased by photographers after becoming rather camera shy outside the court.

In court, Terence said his brother had been depressed that his business was losing trade because of the extension to the London Underground Jubilee Line. But he added he was sure the depression and drinking stemmed from his nine years in prison.

Mr Edwards opened the stall after being released from prison in 1975. In a magazine interview the man who was played on screen by Phil Collins gave an insight into the predicament of going straight.

"I know I'm lucky to have got a chance to have this stall and be my own boss but it's so dreary compared with the life I used to lead," he said.

"It wasn't even the money. I've been on jobs that haven't netted me a penny but, oh, does the adrenaline flow."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing