On this day in history : 12th August 1964 – A massive manhunt gets under way after Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson escapes from Winson Green Prison in Birmingham….
32 year old Wilson had been the gang’s treasurer; it had been his job to divide up the £2.6m haul between the gang members, with each receiving £150k…. Wilson was quickly captured after the robbery – and at his trial he became known as ‘the silent man’ due to his refusal to speak…. He was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment….
Just four months into his sentence, on the 12th of August 1964, three men broke into the prison during the early hours and freed him…. They had stolen a ladder from a nearby builders’ yard, which they used to gain access into the grounds of a psychiatric hospital next door to the prison…. From there they were able to use a rope ladder to scale the 20ft prison wall…. Once inside they coshed a guard and tied him up before opening Wilson’s cell door…. It remains a mystery as to how they got the key, as there was only one designated key holder on site – and it was not the guard that they had attacked….
Wilson was on the run for three and a half years…. He was eventually recaptured in Canada on the 24th of January 1968 – after his wife had called her parents in England, only for the call to be traced…. Wilson was returned to England to finish his sentence…. He was released in 1978….
He emigrated to Marbella, Spain and became suspected of being involved with a drug smuggling ring…. Wilson was alledged to have lost some of the ring’s money through bad investments – and on the 23rd of April 1990, whilst relaxing beside his swimming pool, he was shot dead by a hitman….