But the family of Ronnie Biggs says the fax which confirmed his freedom won't change much. The so-called "Great Train Robber" will likely stay where he is - in bed, seriously ill.
Britain's Justice Secretary Jack Straw said he was releasing Biggs on compassionate grounds because he is near death.
Biggs was part of a gang that robbed a mail train in an August 1963 heist that netted 2.6 million pounds - worth more than $50 million today. The train driver was hit over the head and left unconscious.
Biggs escaped prison in 1965 and eventually fled to Brazil, where he stayed until 2001 when he voluntarily returned to Britain to serve out the rest of his 30-year prison term.
Prison officers watching Biggs at the Norwich and Norfolk Hospital were leaving Friday.
Saturday is Biggs' 80th birthday.