LONDON (Reuters) - Ronnie Biggs, the British criminal known for his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, died on Wednesday at the age of 84, his spokeswoman said.
Biggs gained notoriety 50 years ago as one of a gang that stopped a Royal Mail night train and made off with 2.6 million pounds ($4.2 million), equivalent to about 40 million pounds today.
He became the most famous of the gang after escaping from London's Wandsworth Prison, where he was serving a 30-year prison sentence, by scaling a wall with a rope ladder.
He spent 36 years on the run, mostly living in Brazil. Flaunting his freedom, he once recorded a song "No One is Innocent" with the British punk band the Sex Pistols.
Biggs finally surrendered to British police in 2001 and returned to prison but was freed in 2009 on health grounds.
His son Michael, who had been caring for him in recent years, left a message on his phone on Wednesday saying he would not be taking many calls for "obvious reasons".
Biggs always said he never regretted his role in the robbery although the crime involved a violent attack on the train driver as it gave him fame.
"It has given me a little place in history," he said in one interview. "I made good in a curious way I suppose. I became infamous."
His spokeswoman said he died in the early hours of Wednesday morning. He had been living in a care home in north London in recent years.
Biggs was last seen in public in August at a memorial service at Highgate cemetary in north London for Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind of the robbery, who died aged 81 in February.
Frail and using a wheelchair, Biggs was unable to talk after a series of strokes. He was the only one of about four remaining gang members who was well enough to make the event.
Most of the gang were caught and given prison sentences totaling more than 300 years after the robbery of the train travelling from Glasgow to London.
But the criminals struck a chord with the public, gaining a Robin Hood-style celebrity, although their fame divided opinion due to the attack on the train driver.
Jack Mills was struck over the head during the robbery. He died seven years later and many people believed the injuries he sustained during the heist contributed to his death.
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Angus MacSwan)