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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • 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: Senior Bookkeeper

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Small Family Accountancy Practi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £50,000

£18000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is recruiting for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager / Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Application Analyst - Data, SQL

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing SaaS (Softwar...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence