Train robber Edwards is found hanged

Ronald ''Buster'' Edwards, arguably the most feted of the Great Train Robbers, was found hanged in a lock-up garage yesterday after apparently committing suicide.

Edwards, 63, was found by his brother, Terence, hanging from a steel girder inside the garage near Waterloo Station, south London, just after noon. Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

Widely known for his rehabilitation as a flower-seller at the station, Edwards served nine years for his part in the infamous raid on a Glasgow-to-Euston mail train in 1963. The robbers escaped with pounds 2.6m - the equivalent of about pounds 30m today - but the train driver, Jack Mills, was badly beaten in the process. He never returned to work and died in 1970.

Edwards went on the run with his share of the proceeds but surrendered to police three years after the robbery, apparently because of demands for money from the criminal fraternity. He was released in 1975 and opened his flower stall, where he had been seen by tens of thousands of commuters almost every day since.

But Edwards was said to hanker after his days as a criminal, and to be bored and depressed by his legitimate life. Staff at local pubs said he drank heavily.

According to witnesses, Edwards was at his stall as usual yesterday but looked ill and depressed. He asked a friend to mind the stall for a short while, but he never returned.

Graeme Bradley, a worker on the Jubilee underground line extension, may have been the last man to see Edwards alive. He said: ''When I saw him he looked very poorly, very ill-looking. I asked him what he was doing for Christmas and he didn't seem to know. A couple of hours later one of the lads came into the office and said he was dead''.

Speaking from Rio de Janeiro, Ronnie Biggs promised to ''have a couple of beers'' for Edwards, but he said he would not return for the funeral. ''It makes me very sad to learn that Buster has left us in this way,'' said Biggs. ''I always remember him as a jolly fella.''

In 1988, Edwards was plunged back into controversy with the making of Buster, a film starring the singer Phil Collins as Edwards. Critics argued it made a hero out of Edwards and glamourised a brutal crime. Piers Paul Read, who wrote a book about the robbery in 1978, said Edwards was the man who coshed Mills, although the police never established who struck the blow.

Phil Collins was ''very, very saddened'' by the death of Edwards, with whom he had become friendly. ''He always seemed up and he was a bit of a role model: someone having turned his life around. I'll miss him very much,'' said Mr Collins. ''Contrary to what a lot of people who haven't met Buster thought, he was a very warm person.''

Jack Slipper, the detective who tracked Biggs down to Brazil but failed to extradite him, said he was ''saddened'' by Edwards's death. ''I can't say I will miss him, but I am very very sorry to see a man take his own life.''

Since the robbers were captured, rumours have grown of a secret hoard, as much as half the money, that was hidden and never spent. Edwards's modest way of life suggested the rumours may have been false, but Biggs seemed anxious to keep the myth alive.

''He knew where the money was hidden, and he knew the names of the ones who were never caught,'' he said. ''So do I. We will all take that with us to the grave.''

The big mistake, page 26

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Life and Style
life
News
‘The Graduate’, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, was directed by Nichols in his purple period
people
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

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager