UK & World News
Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds Dies
Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind of the Great Train Robbery, has died a few months before the 50th anniversary of Britain's most notorious heist.
He died at the age of 81 at his south London home following a short illness.
His son Nick, an artist and musician, said his father had passed away peacefully.
Nick Reynolds said: "My dad was a quintessential Englishman who happened to spend some of his life on the wrong side of the tracks."
Reynolds put together the gang that stole £2.6m when it held up the Glasgow to London mail train in Buckinghamshire in August 1963.
The robbers were hailed as "latter-day Robin Hoods" after escaping with such a big haul, worth an estimated £40m today.
But news that the train driver Jack Mills was coshed during the raid took the edge off their folk hero status and many hated the way their crime was romanticised.
Reynolds spent five years on the run, mostly in Mexico, before returning to the UK where he was arrested in Torquay, Devon.
He did 10 years in prison - and was later jailed again for a drugs offence - but went on to lecture and speak regularly on television about the robbery and other crime issues.
He never excused his life of crime and wrote a well-received memoir called Autobiography Of A Thief, which was to be re-issued this year ahead of the robbery's anniversary.
He once said the robbery and his notoriety proved a curse, with no-one wanting to employ him legally or illegally, and he struggled to earn a living.
The stolen money soon vanished, used to pay off associates for harbouring them and keeping silent, or dumped because it became too hot to handle.
Most of the gang have since died, with Buster Edwards hanging himself in a lock-up garage from where he ran a flower business near Waterloo station.
Escapee Ronnie Biggs lives in London after serving a prison sentence imposed when he returned from 30 years' exile in Brazil.
Detectives believe there were more gang members who were never identified.
Gangster Eddie Richardson, one of the few criminals who survive from that time, said: "Bruce was alright. He was his own man. he was good company in prison and had a few stories to tell."
I once asked Reynolds in a Sky News interview how prisoners deal with a long jail sentence.
Drawing on one of his favourite Montecristo No 2 cigars he replied: "Easy, you just do it five years at a time."