THE retired detective who arrested two of the Great Train Robbers in Bournemouth says Ronnie Biggs – who has been released from prison on compassionate grounds – should have stayed inside until he died.

Charlie Case, 75, of Winton, said: “My views haven’t changed. He’s no use to anybody. He’s an expense on our finances and as such, goodbye.”

Biggs was freed yesterday by Justice Secretary Jack Straw after serving 10 years of his original 30-year jail sentence.

Only last month, Mr Straw denied Biggs parole, saying he was “wholly unrepentant” and had “outrageously courted the media” while on the run. He reversed that decision because of medical evidence showing that Biggs – who will be 80 on Saturday – had deteriorated and was not expected to recover from his health problems.

In April, Biggs’ son Michael said his father had suffered three strokes, two minor heart attacks, had skin cancer and could not walk, eat, drink or speak properly. In June he broke his hip in a fall.

Ronnie Biggs' son talks about his fathers' release

Biggs was one of a gang of 15 masked men who held up the Glasgow to London mail train near Cheddington in Buckinghamshire, on August 8 1963.

The train’s driver, Jack Mills, was beaten with an iron bar and was never able to work again. The robbers escaped with a record £2.6 million in used bank notes – equivalent to £40 million today.

With the nation agog at the scale and audacity of the heist, a huge manhunt was launched by the police.

But the first arrests, of Roger Cordrey and William Boal, were made six days later in Bournemouth. DC Case and his Welsh colleague, Det Sgt Stan Davies, had been sent to see Ethel Clarke, a policeman’s widow in Tweedale Road, off Castle Lane.

She was suspicious about two men who had answered her advertisement for a garage to let and paid her three months rent in 10 shilling notes.

Cordrey and Boal turned up in a small Austin van and the officers asked to look inside. “They objected and started shouting that we were assaulting them. Quite a tussle took place, but we didn’t get injured,” recalled Mr Case. After reinforcements turned up, £140,000 cash was discovered in the back of the van.

The following April, 12 of the gang were convicted at Aylesbury. Cordrey, who gave back his £80,000 share of the haul, was the only one to plead guilty.

Mr Case gave evidence at the trial, the only time he ever saw Biggs in the flesh. “They were all there in blue suits, plain blue ties and white shirts. They looked like a group of businessmen.”

Biggs escaped from Wandsworth Prison the following July and fled first to Australia, then to Brazil, where he successfully fought extradition because he had fathered Michael by his Brazilian girlfriend.

He returned to the UK voluntarily in May 2001 and was immediately returned to jail.

Malcolm Fewtrell – the head of Buckinghamshire CID who played a major part in tracking down the robbers – retired to Swanage, where he died in 2005, aged 96. He deplored romanticised accounts of the robbery, which he called “a sordid crime committed for great gain”.