Appeal court rejects Biggs' freedom bid as 'hopeless'

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The Independent Online

Ronnie Biggs' son said yesterday that his father would go to the European Court of Human Rights after the train robber's case to have his sentence dropped was dismissed in a British court.

Biggs' attempt to launch an appeal against his 30-year sentence was dismissed in the High Court yesterday. The judge said that it was "hopeless" and "completely misconceived" attempt.

Biggs, 74, has been held in the hospital wing of Belmarsh prison, south-east London, since he returned voluntarily to the UK from Brazil in May 2001, 36 years after escaping from jail and fleeing abroad. He served less than two years of the sentence imposed for his part in the £2.6m mail train heist in 1963.

Biggs had applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer his sentence back to the Court of Appeal. The commission refused and Biggs then sought to challenge its decision in the High Court.

The case was listed for "disposal" yesterday. No one appeared to represent Biggs and his case was dismissed by Mr Justice Jackson and Mr Justice Silber. Michael Biggs said that the case had been made impossible because his father could not get legal aid.

He said that his father's lawyers were drafting an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

He said: "The simple fact is that I can't pay for this battle. For some reason the legal aid board will not grant my father legal aid and it will not deny him legal aid - this has been going on for more than a year. Paedophiles get it straight away, murderers get it straight away but, for some reason, Ronnie Biggs doesn't."

One of Biggs' complaints in the case dismissed yesterday related to the disparity between his 30-year sentence and the jail terms of between six years and 25 years imposed on his 11 co-defendants.

Bruce Reynolds, who received the 25-year sentence, served seven years.