Thursday, August 25, 2005

RIP: Jack Slipper ("Slipper of the Yard")

Jack Slipper, or "Slipper of the Yard" has died aged 81. Slipper was the policeman most associated with the 1963 Great Train Robbery - particularly with Ronnie Biggs, the Great Train Robber whom Slipper, as a detective sergeant working on the case, had helped to convict. Biggs promptly escaped from Wandsworth prison, climbing a 20" wall and jumping down a hole sawn into the roof of a waiting van. Biggs then went on the run, first to Antwerp (where he had remarkably ineffective and very painful plastic surgery), then in Australia, then, from 1969, in Brazil.

When Biggs' whereabouts had been established by the Daily Express in 1974, Jack Slipper went to Rio de Janeiro, under the impression he could arrest and bring him back to justice. But before Slipper could nab his man, Biggs impregnated his Brazilian girlfriend, Raimunda. The Brazilian authorities accordingly refused to let Biggs be taken out of the country. Slipper returned home alone, and was pictured asleep on the plane, sitting next to an empty seat.

There was much more to Jack Slipper than the Biggs saga. During his service with the RAF in Rhodesia, he was light heavyweight champion of the Combined Services there. Aside from the Biggs case, during his time at the CID he helped solve the Bank of America robbery and other cases during the 1970s. He also helped introduce the "supergrass" system in Britian, offering criminals indemnity in return for evidence. But he knew that he would always be remembered for his relationship with the Great Train Robber.

When Slipper visited Biggs at his Brazil villa in 1993, he asked him, "So, Ronnie, does crime pay?" Ronnie Biggs shook his head. "I've got nothing left," he said. In 2001, Biggs finally returned to Britain to give himself up.

Telegraph News Jack Slipper

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