Train robber Ronnie Biggs says farewell to Bruce Reynolds
Biggs salutes a 'true friend' as the mastermind of the Great Train Robbery is laid to rest in London
GREAT Train Robber Ronnie Biggs raised a defiant two fingers to press photographers yesterday at the funeral of Bruce Richard Reynolds, the mastermind of the infamous 1963 heist.
Biggs, who is 83 and partially paralysed after a series of strokes, is unable to speak. But in a statement read out at the church of St Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield, he said Reynolds – who died in his sleep at the age of 81 – was a "true friend". He added: "A friend through good and bad times and we had plenty of both."
Many of the men who took part in the £2.6m robbery have "already had their collars felt by the Almighty", says The Guardian. Biggs and Bob Welch, also in a wheelchair, were the only members of the 15-strong gang at yesterday's funeral.
The church's rector, the Rev Martin Dudley, told the congregation: "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. A man is not defined by one act. There is always the bigger picture."
The funeral was organised by Reynolds's son Nick, a sculptor and member of the band Alabama 3. They performed their song Too Sick To Pray and the punk poet John Cooper Clarke read out a poem he wrote after Reynolds died. Nick Reynolds told mourners his father was "a romantic, a true adventurer, a journeyman who chose a lunatic path and paid the price".
There were plenty of reminders of that "path" at the church yesterday. The 300 mourners included Freddie Foreman, a former henchman to the Kray brothers known as 'Brown Bread Fred' for the assistance he gave in disposing of one of the twins' high-profile victims. Chris Lambrianou, who was also a member of the Krays' gang - The Firm - was in attendance, as well as self-proclaimed gangster Dave Courtney.
Guests left the church to the sound of Let's Face the Music and Dance and wake was held at a pub in London's East End. ·